Thursday 23 March 2017

Parents of tragic teen fail to overturn death probe medical verdict

TIM HEALY

THE parents of a teenage boy who died in hospital after 72 days in intensive care have failed to overturn a coroner's verdict that the cause of death was a rare brain disorder due to an underlying condition.

Mirek Bingham (16) also appeared to have MRSA around the time he was admitted to intensive care at Dublin's Mater Hospital, the High Court heard.

Rejecting his parents' complaints about the handling of the inquest by coroner Brian Farrell into the boy's death, Mr Justice John Hedigan said their claims were "devoid of any substance or support whatever".

The judge said it was "a very sad story" and one could imagine the emotional trauma endured by parents Bernard and Viola Bingham as they watched Mirek die over a three-month period. "That was an ordeal one would wish on no one," the judge said.

Among a series of claims, the Binghams alleged a failure to call witnesses who may have given an opinion that alleged delays in diagnosis and treatment of their son caused his death on New Year's Eve, 1999.

Judge Hedigan, stressing the court's jurisdiction was limited to determining whether the inquest verdict was lawful, said this was a "careful" verdict "based squarely upon the evidence" and was "certainly rational" and lawful.

Allegations of unfair procedures were "entirely without foundation" and all relevant witnesses were called, he added.

There was "ample relevant evidence" before the coroner, including the report of an independent pathologist, upon which he could base his verdict that the cause of death was epilepsia partialis continua -- a rare type of brain disorder in which a person experiences recurrent epileptic seizures -- due to an underlying progressive neurological disorder consistent with a mitochondrial defect.

Given a "problematic" relationship between Mirek's parents and Mater Hospital staff, the coroner had "wisely" chosen an independent outside pathologist, Professor Michael Farrell (no relation to the coroner) to carry out the post mortem, the judge said.

The parents had objected to Prof Farrell's ordering of additional tests at a Paris hospital before reaching his conclusion on the cause of death but this was "highly creditable" and it was hard to understand how anyone could object to "such necessary further investigation".

After the judge's verdict, Mirek's father, Bernard, indicated he was unhappy with the verdict. Speaking outside the court, he described his son as an "active" boy, "full of life".

He said that two days before his son's initial operation, to relieve a swallowing difficulty, Bernard played football with him in the Phoenix Park.

"Everything that was said at the inquest was that he had no hope of living. He had every hope of living," he added.

"After the operation, he was in intensive care, he had MRSA seven times, and that was in an isolated cubicle. How could somebody have MRSA seven times in an isolated cubicle?"

Irish Independent

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