Case dates back to 2022
The family of an Irish citizen who died less than 48 hours after being taken to Faro hospital, where he was seen by a doctor before leaving the facility a few hours afterwards, is to seek €500,000 in compensation.
The case dates back to June 16, 2022, when Robert Patrick Byrne, 27, who was on holiday in the Algarve, was taken by ambulance to hospital due to abdominal pain, but ended up leaving the unit after a few hours, before he could be given further care.
According to Alexandre Martins, lawyer for the victim’s parents, the death certificate was issued less than 48 hours later, in the early hours of June 18, in Dublin, Ireland, where he had travelled in severe pain, according to friends.
The family is demanding €500,000 in compensation from the University Hospital Centre of the Algarve (CHUA) and the doctor who treated the patient, claiming that the unit failed to provide him with adequate care, which led him to leave the hospital without knowing that he was in danger of dying.
“Every patient is a layperson, he didn’t speak Portuguese and nobody spoke English to him so that he could understand what was happening,” said the lawyer in statements to Lusa, saying that he believed that if the doctor who saw him had continued to oversee his care, Byrne would not have died.
According to the initial legal petition in the case, says Lusa, the victim began to feel strong abdominal pains at 6am on June 16, which did not improve, and his friends called the ambulance service, the National Institute of Medical Emergency (INEM).
The medical team that went to the scene decided to take him to the accident and emergency department at Faro hospital, where Byrne was admitted at 10.26am and, according to the document, was left “abandoned” for approximately three hours “without any support.”
According to the lawyer, in triage, a nurse assigned him a green wristband, which corresponds to a less urgent situation, and his pain was rated from 1 to 4, on a scale of 0 to 10.
At 12.26pm, Robert was seen by a doctor, who carried out an objective examination and noted in the clinical observations that the patient had a “hard abdomen” – putting “acute abdomen” as a possible diagnosis.
“The doctor realised that it could be an acute abdomen, but he didn’t inform Robert of the seriousness of his condition, he didn’t carry out any additional tests, he didn’t give him any medication to relieve the pain, he didn’t do anything,” the lawyer told Lusa.
According to the family, the doctor “failed to respond appropriately to the case” since an acute abdomen could be a situation that requires urgent treatment. Their lawyer noted that the autopsy identified “‘metabolic stress’ from a perforated duodenal ulcer and severe ulcerative oesophagitis” as the cause of death.
Without “any support from health professionals” the man ended up “seeking support from friends” and returned to his accommodation, and the “negligence in providing information” was a determining factor in the patient leaving the hospital, since he did not know that his life was at risk.
When Byrnoe was called at 3pm by hospital staff for further care, they realised that the patient was no longer in the facility and he was discharged for having left the premises.
The following day, on June 17, Byrne began his journey back to Ireland and was pronounced dead by a medical team after landing at Dublin airport at 2am the following day.
“After all, the doctor had at his disposal all the means deemed necessary for the patient to be treated and not die, but he didn’t even have the humanity to inform the patient of the seriousness of his case,” emphasises the legal petition from the parents, who believe that their son’s death was the result of medical error.
Arguing that it was no “mere mistake” or “a simple delay in care,” the young man’s family believes that the “omission of help” cost him his life, causing them not only “immense pain, but also irreparable damage,” which is why they are seeking €500,000 in compensation.
The amount requested refers to non-pecuniary damages, taking into account “all the suffering and pain that the plaintiffs are enduring and will endure all the days of their lives due to the absurd loss of their son.”