Patient, 64, choked on a sweet, inquest told

A 64-year-old mental health patient died after a choking on a sweet, an inquest was told yesterday.

A visitor to St Finan’s Psychiatric Hospital, in Killarney, Co Kerry, gave a marshmallow sweet to Mary Theresa Coffey on Mar 27 last.

She was in the TV sitting room at the hospital when people noticed she had become grey in colour and gasping for air.

Despite intensive efforts by medical and nursing staff and paramedics and the use of CPR to save her, she was pronounced dead a short time after.

Nurse Marie O’Sullivan told the inquest in Killarney that the late Ms Coffey was a high choking risk.

Ms Coffey, of Torc Terrace, Killarney, had been a long-term patient at the hospital.

Coroner Terence Casey said the giving of the sweet to Ms Coffey was outside the control of the hospital.

“The staff did everything possible to help the deceased in these unfortunate circumstances,’’ he said.

The inquest was also told a difficulty in swallowing was not uncommon in patients in psychiatric institutions.

An autopsy was carried out by assistant state pathologist, Dr Margot Bolster, and the cause of death was found to be vomit associated with impaction of food in the larynx.

A jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

Mr Casey, Garda inspector Aileen Magner, and jury foreman Paudie Linehan, all extended sympathies to Ms Coffey’s family.


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