Friday 31 October 2014

Relatives begged for morphine as brother died

Published 11/10/2013 | 05:00

Bernard Wright: died after developing pneumonia

A MAN with Down Syndrome was left screaming in pain for hours at an A&E while his family pleaded with doctors to give him morphine, an inquest heard.

Bernard Wright's family eventually organised a private ambulance to take the 57-year-old back to the Cara Residential Unit at St Michael's House in Dublin 17, where he lived, because staff there said they could give him morphine. He died there a week later on February 15, 2011, as a result of double pneumonia.

Dublin Coroner's Court heard that Mr Wright, who also had Alzheimer's Disease, had undergone a hernia operation two weeks before and subsequently suffered an injury to his scrotum, which became infected.

He was readmitted to Beaumont A&E on February 8, short of breath and coughing, having developed pneumonia.

His sister Aileen Morrissey said when she arrived, doctors told her he was very ill. His condition improved during the night. However, by early morning he became very distressed

The family asked medics to give Mr Wright morphine, but were told he could be given pain relief or antibiotics but not both, she said. They asked that he be given pain relief and were told the palliative care team would see him, she added.

Pethidine was administered to no effect. The family requested again he be given morphine.

Consultant Dr Diarmuid Smith, who oversaw the admission, said when the pethidine did not work the case was discussed with the palliative care team who advised Mr Wright be given an anti-anxiety medication – and if this did not work he could be given morphine.

Dr Smith said: "It should have been relayed to the family. That is possibly a reflection of the pressures and strains and I apologise."

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell recommended Beaumont Hospital review the communications issues raised by the family.

By Gareth Naughton

Irish Independent

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