AN inquest into the death of a week-old baby, who was not seen by a doctor until eight requests were made by his parents, has recommended that all out-of-hours medical services treat patients if they ring three times in succession.
Oisin Clancy was just eight-days-old when he died as a result of meningitis caused by a Group A Streptococcus infection on January 7, 2012. The inquest heard there had been eight calls between his father David Clancy and Westdoc services before Oisin was seen by a doctor.
David and Catherine Clancy, of Ballybawn, Headford, Co Galway, became concerned when Oisin suddenly stopped eating and was keeping his mouth clamped shut. However, the couple were initially informed the child may have colic and not to attend the out-of-hours doctor when they called.
Galway West coroner Dr Ciaran MacLouglin questioned why two calls made by Mr Clancy were recorded as routine, the lowest priority available.
"Fortunately, I have the benefit of being a doctor and if I got a second call three hours later about a five-day-old baby I would not consider it as routine," he said.
The inquest was told by the clinical nurse manager for Westdoc that while the call in question was logged as routine, it was dealt with in a matter of minutes.
The inquest also heard from Dr Thomas Rea who examined baby Oisin on the morning of January 6. He told how he had been with the child for 51 minutes and at no stage saw any symptoms to raise concern.
However, within hours baby Oisin had gone limp and motionless in his grandmother's arms and was rushed to hospital. His condition deteriorated and he died on the morning of January 7, 2012, from meningitis as a result of Strep A.
The inquest was told that Oisin had developed an extremely rare infection and consultant microbiologist Prof Martin Cormican was only aware of two cases in Ireland.
The inquest earlier heard how Catherine Clancy had never been made aware by her GP that she had developed a Strep B infection which can be passed on to babies causing meningitis. After she was made aware of the infection in the hospital she was never told to monitor her son.
She told the inquest that while she accepted that Oisin had not contracted her Strep B infection and died as a result of a separate infection, she would have been on heightened alert if she had been made aware of any possible risk of infection.
She would therefore have brought him straight to A&E when he became unwell and believes she could have possibly saved her baby.
Dr MacLoughlin recorded a verdict that baby Oisin Clancy had died from overwhelming sepsis and meningitis caused by a Group A Strep. He sympathised with the family.