Saturday 18 November 2017

Parents told not to bring baby to GP hours before he died of meningitis

Catherine and David Clancy at the Coroner's Court in Galway yesterday
Catherine and David Clancy at the Coroner's Court in Galway yesterday
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

THE father of a baby who died of meningitis rang out-of-hours service Westdoc eight times seeking a doctor, but was told the baby may have colic and not to bring him in, an inquest was told.

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.

His mother, Catherine Clancy, criticised the care received from her GP, Westdoc and the maternity staff.

In the hours leading up to his death, the inquest heard that Oisin's father David Clancy rang Westdoc up to eight times, repeatedly requesting a doctor see the baby who had suddenly stopped eating and was keeping his mouth clamped shut. They were informed that the child may have colic and not to attend, the inquest heard.

On the final call they decided they would bring Oisin in regardless of the doctor's view. He was examined by a doctor on call and sent home with a suppository for the baby after being informed he had gas.

However, within hours Oisin, of Ballybawn, Headford, Co Galway, went limp and motionless in the arms of his grandmother, Angela.

"I could see that he was breathing but his body felt lifeless," said his mother.

Baby Oisin was rushed to Galway University Hospital where he failed to respond to antibiotics.

His condition deteriorated and he died on the morning of January 7, 2012.

The inquest heard Westdoc had recorded four calls from Mr Clancy, at 3.09am, 6.16am, 6.52am and 8.38am.

But counsel for the family said that Mr Clancy had first called shortly after 2am and not at 3.09am as the records claimed.

Siobhan O'Sullivan, from Westdoc, said a review of the case had resulted in the service discovering a problem with their own phone systems. While the first call was initially recorded at 2.22am, a search through the telephone company records had discovered this call was an error in the system and the first call was actually made at 3.09am.

"In 11 years this is the first time anything like this has happened," she said.


It also emerged that recordings of the calls no longer exist as the service records over calls every three months.

Galway Coroner Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin said there was a conflict there and the only way to reconcile this was to obtain the records from Mr Clancy's phone.

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. A dispute arose between GPs Grace Doyle and Niamh O'Brien as to which of them opened the results.

Staff at the hospital only became aware of Mrs Clancy's infection hours after her delivery, when a nurse "stumbled" upon the results on screen.

Had they known prior to this Mrs Clancy would have been given antibiotics during labour. This would have given both Mrs Clancy and her son protection from infection for up to 24 hours but would not have offered any protection from infection in the community after discharge.

A nurse later informed Mrs Clancy of the infection but never told her it could cause meningitis in babies. Had she known she would have been on "high alert" for meningitis and would have brought Oisin straight to A&E after he stopped feeding on January 6.

"If we were given the information we could have possibly saved our child," she added.

Consultant obstetrician Prof John Morrison told the inquest there was no evidence of Strep B infection in the baby.

Dr Martin Cormican, a consultant microbiologist at UHG, said Strep A and Strep B were two distinct species and one could not become the other.

He said most babies who pick up severe Strep A do so two to four days before becoming sick, therefore even had Mrs Clancy been administered antibiotics during labour, these would have worn off prior to baby Oisin contracting the infection.

The inquest was adjourned until next month.

Irish Independent

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