Sunday 17 December 2017

Woman who had minor surgery at private hospital died less than two weeks later, inquest told

The late Susan McGee (inset), and members of her family outside the Coroner's Court.
The late Susan McGee (inset), and members of her family outside the Coroner's Court.

Gareth Naughton

A woman who had minor elective surgery at a private hospital in Dublin died less than two weeks later, an inquest has heard.

Susan McGee (52), a mother-of-two from Skerries Road in Rush, north county Dublin died at Beaumont Hospital on July 24, 2013, eight days after she was discharged from The Hermitage Medical Clinic following surgery.

The inquest into her death was opened at Dublin Coroner’s Court but adjourned following legal submissions.

The court heard that Mrs McGee attended The Hermitage for an elective hernia surgery on July 13, 2013. Giving evidence, Garda Derek Dalton said she was discharged three days later on July 16 and returned to her home where she was being looked after by her daughter Melissa Barry.

“She was readmitted to The Hermitage at 10pm that night. She remained in hospital where her condition was monitored. Susan McGee was seen by several clinical professionals. She contacted her daughter on July 22 and said she felt extremely unwell. On the same date she underwent surgery. She was then transferred to the intensive care unit in Beaumont Hospital on July 23, 2013,” he said.

She passed away just after midnight on July 24, the court heard. Her body was identified to gardaí at Beaumont Hospital by Ms Barry. Garda Dalton confirmed there are no suspicious circumstances in the death. Ms Barry is expected to give further evidence about her mother’s care when the hearing resumes.

The inquest had been scheduled for a full hearing but was adjourned following submissions from legal representatives for the family, The Hermitage and two consultants who were due to give evidence.

Barrister for the family Dr Simon Mills BL told the court there will be a “tension” between what Ms Barry will say in evidence and what is recorded in the nursing notes. He said he also anticipates there would be a tension between the two consultants due to give evidence and the nursing notes.

“The reality is that neither of them saw or assessed Mrs McGee over the weekend during which she became ill and as a result of which deterioration she died. It is the situation, I think, that this inquest should… hear from the clinicians - medical or nursing - who were with her as she deteriorated,” he said.

Representing The Hermitage, Brian Foley BL said there are no depositions from nursing staff and he has not met with them. He submitted that Ms Barry’s evidence would appear to be “at odds” with what is in the nursing records and if nursing care is to be "implicated", he should be in a position to deal with that.  “I simply cannot represent my client’s interests effectively on the hoof,” he said.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell adjourned the inquest for mention later this month.

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