Dad died days after operation on hernia
Published 24/01/2014 | 02:30
A VERDICT of medical misadventure has been returned at the inquest of a man who died two days after being discharged from hospital following a hernia operation.
John Comerford (68) had the procedure carried out at St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny city on March 18, of 2011 and was discharged the next morning.
But the coroner's court in Kilkenny heard that Mr Comerford's bowel was perforated as a result of the hernia operation.
The father of two from Castlecomer in Co Kilkenny, was suffering from septic shock when he returned to the hospital's emergency unit, as well as suffering underlying heart disease.
He came into the emergency unit on the night of March 20 in a "very unwell" condition, and died early on March 21 in the hospital's intensive care unit, the inquest heard.
The coroner, Tim Kiely, referred to the evidence of the hernia surgery, "which everybody accepts caused the bowel perforation".
He returned a finding of medical misadventure but stressed that this was not a finding of fault with any party involved.
After the inquest, Mr Comerford's daughter Karen Brown, said the family were relieved to have some "clarity" about what happened but were "devastated" about the loss of her father.
Her mother, Pamela Comerford, is taking a civil action against the hospital.
She described her father as "a fit man" and said he and his family expected his hernia operation to be "a simple, straightforward thing" on March 18 of 2011. "Two days later we lost him."
Ms Brown, who lives in England, recalled how she heard of his death.
"I was in the airport when my mother told me he had passed away. I didn't even get to see him. It was that quickly."
Earlier, consultant surgeon Ian Wilson told the inquest how Mr Comerford was brought to the operating theatre on the night he was re-admitted.
The stitches from his hernia operation were opened and there was "some leakage," he said.
The wound was washed out during surgery and he was brought to the intensive care unit, where he went into cardiac arrest at about 3.50am.
He was resuscitated after being worked on for 20 minutes but the medical staff decided, after speaking with his family, that if he went into cardiac arrest again he wouldn't be resuscitated.
Mr Wilson told the court that his interpretation was there had been a "partial injury" caused to the wall of the bowel during the initial hernia surgery on March 18.
This injury then became a perforation, between the time the patient was discharged from hospital and the time he was re-admitted the following night.
At the time of his discharge, there was no evidence of any "significant leakage" from the bowel or internal bleeding, Mr Wilson said.
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