Even a simple pharmaceutical product like Bonjela is not available at University Hospital Galway at weekends as the pharmacy is not open, it emerged yesterday.
A grieving widower told his wife’s inquest of having to leave the hospital and buy Bonjela to treat his wife’s severely painful mouth.
The inquest into the death of nurse Kathleen Kilgallen heard she died at UHG in June of last year from septic shock after an extremely rare disease which caused almost all of her skin to shed.
Mrs Kilgallen, aged 64, of Newpark, Swinford, Co Mayo, had been moved from Mayo General Hospital in February for treatment of cervical cancer and had radiotherapy. She was expected to be released in April.
However, she developed a hospital bug, VRE (vancomycin resistant enterococci), and her condition began to deteriorate. She developed a rash and was put on heavy doses of antibiotics.
She required surgery to drain an infection but during the operation on May 9 her bowel was perforated, the inquest heard.
Her husband, Tom Kilgallen told the inquest he had visited his wife on June 9. She had not been drinking for several days.
“She said her mouth felt like there were 1,000 pieces of broken glass in it.”
When he asked for treatment for her mouth, a nurse told him the pharmacy was not open at weekends.
Consultant Michael O’Leary, who operated on Mrs Kilgallen, was asked by coroner Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin if it was possible there would be no pharmacist available at such a major hospital at weekends.
Dr O’Leary said: “Unfortunately I believe so. There are multiple specialties not present in the hospital at weekends.”
Surgeon Dr Mark Regan said Mrs Kilgallen had developed a rare condition known as toxic epidermal necrolysis (TENs) which causes the skin to shed.
Dr Regan said he wanted to point out to the inquest that there was always access to drugs that were required and the keys were available to nurses on duty.
Medical witnesses agreed Mrs Kilgallen did not die as a result of her cancer, but suffered a reaction to drugs and had developed TENs.
The inquest heard cause of death was septic shock following on from TENs in the aftermath of treatment for cancer. Dr MacLoughlin returned a verdict of medical misadventure.