Misdiagnosis leads to death - inquest hears

A verdict of misadventure has been returned at the inquest into the death of a woman who died just days after being initially misdiagnosed.

At Westmeath Coroner’s Court, coroner Dr Wilfred Hoover directed the jury that Martina Donnelly, 112 Petitswood Manor, Mullingar had died following circumstances which arose after an initially incorrect diagnosis in a Dublin hospital.

Mrs Donnelly (49 ) was released from Beaumont Hospital on July 10 last where she had been treated for severe abdominal pain.

She had just got off a flight from Bristol to Dublin with her husband Martin and her two teenage daughters when she became ill and was taken by ambulance from the airport.

She had a glass of wine on the plane and a meal either on the plane or at Bristol airport and was treated in Dublin for gastritis and given painkillers and medicines to stop her vomiting.

She was sent home and spent most of the day in bed, where she took an antacid, but at around 6pm she became very unwell and an ambulance was called again.

Mr Donnelly described how his wife let out a sigh and her eyes rolled back in her head, and he performed CPR until paramedics arrived and she was given two shocks to her heart.

She was admitted to Mullingar Regional Hospital, and an operation revealed a twisted gut, most likely caused by a fibrous band that developed after she had her appendix out.

However her condition deteriorated and she died on July 14 of acute bronchial pneumonia secondary to acute diffuse alveolar damage, and multi-organ failure arising from an ischemic small bowel.

A large part of her small intestine had died, pathologist Dr Miriam Walsh said, adding that ischemic bowel can be fatal without intervention.

Nurse Aisling Doherty, a triage nurse in Beaumont, categorised Mrs Donnelly as urgent, with a pain level of ten out of ten.

The A&E unit was very busy and Ms Doherty said she watched Mrs Donnelly for about an hour and treated her with painkillers and an anti-emetic.

She said Mrs Donnelly complained of central and lower abdominal pain, but Dr William Shields said she complained of upper abdominal pain and he treated her accordingly.

He said he examined her and ordered a chest X-ray to eliminate the possibility of a perforated intestine.

He diagnosed severe gastritis because of her history in the last few hours and the location of the pain.

Mrs Donnelly was examined again by the hospital registrar Dr Zekria Bakhshi who decided she could go home. She was still in pain.

Dr Bakhshi was not in court.


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