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A man who claimed he suffered disfigurement when he had mouth surgery as part of cancer treatment at a Cork hospital has settled his High Court action on undisclosed terms. 
Oonah McCrann SC, counsel for Liam Coughlan, told the court last week that her client always took great pride in his appearance but now feels as if he looks like the “elephant man”. 
She said that people at times do not recognise Mr Coughlan, a carpenter and maintenance officer from Midleton, Co Cork, and that he fears for his future as his life is now very different. 
“He can’t reach up to change a light bulb, he can’t lift heavy saucepans in the kitchen. He worked all his life and is devastated he can’t get back to work,” counsel said. 
Mr Coughlan’s case was that an unnecessary and inappropriate procedure and an inappropriate repair was carried out. The 63-year-old sued the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital, Cork and the HSE over the care he received when he needed mouth surgery as part of treatment for mouth cancer in 2015. 
Mr Coughlan had an ulcer at the base of his mouth and was advised he would have to have a sliver of the inner aspect of his lower jaw removed. It was claimed that a far more extensive surgery than he was informed about or consented to was undertaken. 
In February 2015, he underwent a tracheostomy, a bilateral neck dissection and part of his jaw bone was removed. He was discharged from the hospital after several weeks. It was claimed that his neck incision wound did not heal well and he had to have radiotherapy. 
He continued to suffer problems and it was claimed he was informed in August 2015 that a plate and screws had been inserted as part of his original surgery. He had to have a further repair procedure on his jaw area in November 2015. Mr Coughlan sought a second opinion and was admitted to a Dublin hospital in September 2016 for further intervention. 
It was claimed there was failure to treat him properly, that he was caused to develop an infection and had to undergo numerous repair surgeries. It was claimed he has a severe restriction to his shoulder, head and neck movements since and is unable to hold his head in its natural position. 
The claims were denied and it was contended the surgery, repair and care were appropriate. 
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