Hospital apologises to family over 'tragic loss' of man, 26

Letterkenny University Hospital.

A hospital has apologised unreservedly to the family of a 26-year-old man who died because it was claimed he did not get a timely operation for a bowel obstruction.

John Paul McCloskey died on November 22, 2016, due to a brain injury and multi-organ failure after his bowel was perforated causing septic shock.

In the High Court today his family settled a High Court action over the death of the Donegal man and the care he received at Letterkenny University Hospital.

In a letter of apology read to the court the General Manager of Letterkenny University Hospital, Sean Murphy, expressed sincere regrets on "the devastating loss of John Paul."

“I wish to apologise unreservedly that the standard of care delivered to John Paul during his admission at our hospital was not to the standard that we believe would be appropriate," he said.

The letter added: “I fully recognise that nothing that I nor the team here at Letterkenny University Hospital can say, can in any way make up for the tragic loss which you have experienced and there is a huge regret with the team here that John Paul did not receive better more organised care during his time with us.”

Counsel for the McCloskey family, Hugh O Keeffe SC with Doireann O’Mahony BL told the High Court it was their case that John Paul who had been admitted to A&E at the Letterkenny hospital on October 11, 2016, with abdominal pain should have been operated on by October 19 and this would have saved his life.

A CT scan on October 16, counsel said, confirmed an obstruction in the small bowel linked to Crohn’s disease. Counsel said experts on their side would say there should have been an operation by October 19, but John Paul suffered a perforation of the bowel and died in another hospital on November 22, 2016.

Last year an inquest into the young man’s death concluded John Paul McCloskey died as a result of brain injuries after the perforation of his small bowel following a systems failure at Letterkenny General Hospital that led to medical misadventure.

In the High Court John Paul’s brother, Brian McCloskey of Taobh an Struthan, Buncrana, County Donegal, had sued the HSE over the circumstances of his brother's death and his care at Letterkenny University Hospital in October and November 2016.

It was claimed there was a failure to exercise reasonable and ordinary care and skill in and about the management, care and treatment of John Paul McCloskey and a failure to recognise his small bowel obstruction which it was claimed was acute from October 11, 2016, onwards.

A gross delay, it was claimed, was allowed to occur in surgical intervention and there was a failure to operate by midday on October 19, 2016, when Mr McCloskey had been obstructed for over eight days.

A situation, it was claimed, was allowed to arise whereby Mr McCloskey had an episode of fatal septic shock secondary to small bowel perforation due to unrelieved obstruction for a period of at least nine days.

An operation was absolutely indicated on October 16, 2016, and when the results of the CT scan were known it was mandatory, it was claimed.

His family, it was claimed, are devastated knowing that had an operation been performed at any stage before midday on October 19, 2016, the fatal outcome would have been avoided.

Liability was admitted in the case.

John Paul's mother, Angela McCloskey, in court told Mr Justice Kevin Cross the family were glad of the apology which was sent in a letter to the family last year and she would not wish what happened on anyone.

"My lovely darling son was too big for this world," she said.

Approving the settlement, the terms of which are confidential, Mr Justice Cross noted the apology and offered his profound sympathies to the McCloskeys for John Paul's untimely and unnecessary death at such a young age.

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