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Family hear mum's ventilator was 'off for seven minutes'

A leading A&E consultant has hit out at the lack of lifesaving ventilators in the emergency department at Tallaght Hospital.

Dr James Gray, emergency medicine consultant, said it is a "disgrace" that engineers at the hospital are forced to "cannibalise" other machines to keep equipment going.


He made the comments at the inquest into the death of Diana Martin (34), a mother-of-three from Fettercairn Road, Tallaght, who died at Tallaght Hospital on May 31 last year after going into septic shock when she developed pneumonia.

It emerged during the inquest at Dublin Coroner's Court that a ventilator used in her resuscitation stopped working without warning and was off for a seven-minute period.

Ms Martin was without oxygen for at least four minutes before doctors realised.

Ms Martin, who had a background of alcohol liver disease and was on the methadone programme, was admitted to Tallaght A&E by ambulance
at 8.39am with difficulty breathing.

She was alert on arrival, however, suffered a cardiac arrest at 9.30am. CPR was performed but she suffered another cardiac arrest.

As medics attempted to resuscitate Ms Martin they noticed that the ventilator had switched off without sounding the alarm.

Giving evidence on the second day of the inquest, Dr Gray said that ventilator failure happened "well into resuscitation" during a second round of cardiac arrest.

The failure of the ventilator was a concern and he raised it with the risk management team.

At the time there was only one ventilator machine - a second ventilator machine has since been purchased.


"We need another two," he said. "Two is not enough."

He said that, in some cases, hospital staff had to "cannibalise" some machines to keep others going.

Pathologist Dr Paul Crotty gave the cause of death as septic shock most likely due to bilateral pneumonia.

He said even if the ventilator had been working properly, the probability of death was greater than 95pc.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said that he had no "causal connection" between the four minutes Ms Martin was without oxygen and her death.

He returned a narrative 

Speaking following the inquest, Ms Martin's brother Wayne Milson said: "We are not happy. Can you hold your breath for four minutes? No-one can.

"We want to know was the machine turned off manually, did something turn it off or was there a fault? There is still no answer".

A spokesman for Tallaght Hospital extended the hospital's condolences to the family of the late Ms. Diana Martin and added: "Tallaght Hospital would also like to state that it has a rigorous maintenance programme in place for all equipment."