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Hospital accused of covering up death details


Peter Acton - see Tallaght inquest copy

Peter Acton - see Tallaght inquest copy

Peter Acton - see Tallaght inquest copy

The family of a man who died in Tallaght Hospital after becoming increasingly dehydrated even as his wife begged nurses to give him water believe the circumstances of his death have been "covered up".

Peter Acton (61), from St John's Grove in Clondalkin, Dublin 22, died on October 3, 2005, after he went into renal failure having been deprived of fluids over a five-hour period despite being diagnosed with dehydration on admission.

Mr Acton became so desperate for water that he begged his wife Lydia to take him home because he "did not want to die" in hospital.

At the conclusion of the inquest into his death at Dublin Coroner's Court yesterday, Tallaght Hospital apologised to the family and admitted negligence in his treatment.


However, speaking outside the court, his son-in-law John Burke said that the family believed the death was "covered up".

"We have little doubt that they have covered up Peter's death because of the nature of his death and we certainly have not got justice today," he said.

Mr Acton was admitted to hospital suffering from double pneumonia with vomiting and dehydration on October 1, 2005.

He was nil-by-mouth and on an intravenous drip; however, when this failed the following afternoon it was five hours before a doctor replaced it.

As he became increasingly thirsty his wife repeatedly asked nurses to give him fluids but was told they were waiting on a doctor to reinsert the drip.

The court heard that the medical intern on call repeatedly failed to attend to Mr Acton when paged.

Nurse Aoife Folliard said yesterday that resources were limited in the hospital at the time because it was a weekend.

The Dublin coroner, Dr Brian Farrell, agreed to hold the inquest after a seven-year campaign for an investigation by his family.

He gave a narrative verdict outlining the facts.

In the apology read out in court, Tallaght Hospital "unequivocally" accepted full responsibility for Mr Acton's "untimely death".

Measures including an early warning system have been taken to specifically assess deteriorating patients.

Outside the court, Mr Burke said that the family would take legal advice on the outcome of the inquest.

Irish Independent