Do not truncate inquiry, urge lawyers for Kivlehan family

Lawyers for Michael Kivlehan told the coroner’s court that "if there’s an attempt to truncate the inquest or reduce it to a level that does not meet these requirements, the Kivlehans will be unhappy and take their unhappiness elsewhere".

Solicitor Damien Tansey told coroner Eamon MacGowan: “The family are so concerned about the inquiry that is about to be embarked on, they are so concerned about its lack of thoroughness, its lack of comprehensiveness, they may well withdraw their request that the inquest happen.”

“The inquest the Kivlehans have waited four years for will be exhaustive and will be fulsome and will be thorough,” he said.

Mr Tansey also said the Kivlehans are considering asking coroner John Leckey to reopen the inquest in Belfast into Dhara Kivlehan’s death.

The hearing heard there were 12 doctors and seven midwives involved in Mrs Kivlehan’s care in Sligo, as well as the doctors and nurses in Belfast.

Mr Tansey accused the coroner of completely refusing to hear from more than one expert witness.

“This is to deprive unduly the jury of a valuable resource. With respect, you are behaving in an arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable manner.”

Mr Tansey claimed the limited witnesses would cause additional distress to the Kivlehans.

Mr McGowan will give his decision in three weeks. He said: “The list of witnesses is reviewable and it will be reviewed by me up or down. I might add... my hope is to be reasonable to the parties.”

The family’s lawyers also sought a series of answers from the coroner on preparations he has made for the hearing, including what medical files he has sought from the HSE.

Mr Tansey said it was essential to have the notes and charts used by nurses and midwives.

Mrs Kivlehan was two weeks over her due date when she arrived at Sligo General Hospital on September 20 in labour. However the results of blood tests taken that day — which showed “grossly abnormal liver function and grossly abnormal kidney function” — were not followed up by her doctors or reported back by the lab for another 12 hours.

Her baby son, Dior, was delivered by C section the following morning.

The hearing was told two doctors in Sligo agreed the emergency procedure should be carried to deliver the baby and then Mrs Kivlehan should be treated in intensive care. She was instead transferred to a side room off the maternity ward for a day and a half with no specialist care before being moved to ICU.

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