Sister to sue French hospitals for twin’s death after dog bite

The Irish woman alleges staff misdiagnosed septic shock and gave her sister paracetamol not antibiotics

Left photo: Frances Sheeran (left) died in hospital from septic shock in September 2022, her twin sister Therese (right) aims to sue for involuntary manslaughter; Right photo: Therese (left) with Frances (right)
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An Irish woman living near Cannes is preparing to file an involuntary manslaughter case claiming her sister died as she was given paracetamol and not antibiotics at hospital following a bite from her dog.

Therese Sheeran has engaged a lawyer to prepare cases against the Simone Veil hospital in Cannes and the Grasse public hospital.

Her sister Frances, 63, died from septic shock in September 2022 two days after the bite.

Ms Sheeran says her warnings and requests about the deterioration of her sister’s health were not taken into account by hospital staff.

Her sister suffered intense fever and pain, diarrhoea and delirium but was administered paracetamol rather than antibiotics with her condition categorised as viral and not due to bacteria, she claims.

She said she told staff she suspected a misdiagnosis but was told that “we’re the professionals not you”. She said: “I’ll remember that phrase all my life.”

Read more: How do I complain about bad healthcare treatment in France?

She went to Cannes hospital but was discharged

The women shared a house in Mougins, Alpes-Maritimes and had been living in France for 40 years. They had both had children and had held different jobs. Frances had been running a restaurant.

Ms Sheeran said her sister called her in the afternoon of September 4, 2022 to say she felt sick and dehydrated, that her heart was beating rapidly and she had a fever.

She had earlier been bitten by her dog as it tried to drink water from a hose she was using to water the garden. She went to Cannes hospital at 19:30.

Ms Sheeran said she was unable to see her when she arrived later but that her sister was let out at midnight.

Ms Sheeran said she queried her release and was told they should call an ambulance if her sister’s health deteriorated.

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Pleaded with doctors to give sister antibiotics

The next morning they went to Grasse hospital, by which point she said her sister was unable to open her mouth.

She waited outside the A&E department all day having had no contact with her sister.

She was allowed to see her at 19:30 for ten minutes, the last time she would see her alive.

She said she pleaded with the doctor to give antibiotics, saying that every minute counted.

At around 23:00 her sister was moved to a room on the orthopaedic ward to be given paracetamol every six hours.

She was found by a nurse on the floor behind the door, having suffered cardiopulmonary arrest, at 16:00 on September 6.

Reason to suspect negligence and manslaughter

Ms Sheeran’s lawyer, Thomas Callen of Grimaldi et associés, Marseille, said: “It is important we bring attention to this as we have reasons to suspect there was negligence, which may have caused the death.

“This is a criminal matter. Eventually what is at stake is for those concerned to be sent before a criminal court to be judged for manslaughter.”

The Cannes hospital said it is ready to provide documents if there is a legal case to answer, but added: “We reaffirm our full support to our staff, who have been very affected by these accusations.”

Grasse hospital declined to comment.

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