Friday 20 April 2018

Our son did not get a fair chance

Devastated parents of Daniel Clarke believe opportunities were missed at Galway hospital before he died

The late Daniel Clarke
The late Daniel Clarke

A SLIGO teenager who died from a heart rupture was in hospital for a week before he was seen by a consultant cardiologist.

Now the devastated family have said do not believe their son got "a fair chance."

Seventeen-year-old Daniel Clarke, from Calry, was admitted to Galway University Hospital on December 10th 2012

It was thought he had an adverse reaction to medication.

However, his parents believed he was in heart failure.

He died in the early hours of December 19th in the Mater Hospital in Dublin, where he was due to have emergency heart surgery.

His mother told an inquest in Dublin she had pleaded with staff in Galway to have Daniel seen by a cardiologist the day after his admission.

At a post mortem, it was found a tendon in Daniel's heart mitral valve had ruptured, leading to his death.

Now, Daniel's parents, Stephen Clarke and Sheila Gallagher, said they did not feel Daniel received adequate investigation of his illness while in Galway University Hospital.

They added: "It is supposed to be a centre of excellence.

"But we did not feel the medical interventions he received during the eight days Daniel spent in GUH were up to normal standards you expect in a hospital.

"We felt there were many missed opportunities for getting him the right treatment and saving his life.

"As a family, we are devastated by Daniel's death."

The inquest heard Daniel, a past pupil of Calry NS and Summerhill College, was born with congenital heart disease.

However, he underwent a successful repair operation when he was a year old.

His father, Stephen, said his son had lived a "full, healthy life".

He was involved in outdoor activities, including cycling in 100km road races.

On December 10th 2012, he was admitted to GUH.

He was suffering an acute liver injury which doctors believed could have been related to anti-psychotic medication.

He had been taking it following a psychotic episode brought on by steroids prescribed to treat asthma.

Mr Clarke said in the days before his son's admission, Daniel seemed physically "much weaker"

Following admission, his parents became concerned he was not seen by a cardiologist within 24 hours.

They raised their concerns a number of times with Daniel's doctors.

His mother, Sheila, said she pleaded with staff to have Daniel seen by a cardiologist on the day after his admission to the hospital.

Consultant physician Dr Andrea Holmes said that on the third day of admission, she spoke to the cardiac registrar request a cardiac consult.

She was told to arrange an echo cardiogram first.

This was carried out two days later on Friday, December 14th.

Dr Holmes again requested a cardiac consult on the same same day.

Daniel's condition deteriorated during the weekend.

On Monday, Dr Holmes again called for a cardiac consult.

Daniel was seen by consultant cardiologist Dr Pat Nash.

Dr Nash said the consult had been listed as "routine" on the hospital's referral system.

He could find no record of any earlier referral to cardiology.

He said the liver failure was "disproportionate" to the signs of heart failure he saw.

The results of the echo cardiogram showed severe mitral regurgitation.

Dr Nash requested the results of Daniel's last echo from Crumlin Hospital to establish if there had been any major change.

The following day, Daniel was transferred to St Vincent's liver unit.

He was sent to the Mater Hospital later that evening for emergency heart surgery.

However, he died in the early hours of December 19th, before the operation could take place.

Dublin Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said Daniel's death was "a very tragic and complicated case" and it was clear there had been a communication breakdown

He recommended, without prejudice, that Galway University Hospital reviews the process for requesting inhouse consultations and other matters raised at the inquest.

A response from the HSE was not available at the time of going to press.

Sligo Champion