Solicitors for her family revealed that after an inquest jury found last night that her death at Sligo Regional Hospital was a medical misadventure. The jurors did not apportion blame.
Sean Rowlette, Sally’s 39-year-old widower, said after the hearing: “Sitting through the inquest and hearing the detail was very hard. We got our answers. Hopefully, they will save the lives of other women.
“I hope lessons will be learned. I hope it starts tomorrow, because my family has been turned upside down by what’s happened here”.
He said he was “really struggling” to be both mother and father to his four children — Leanne, 9, Abbie, 7, Joseph, 4, and Sally jr, 21 months.
> Rowlette family solicitor Roger Murray noted that expert Dr Peter Boylan, former master of the National Maternity Hospital, gave evidence that there were structural problems within the health service that made it more likely that errors like what happened in Sally’s case would occur.
Mr Murray said: “He was referring in particular to two consultants who are no longer with the hospital — one of whom was a locum consultant, who was supposed to arrive in the ICU department the night that Sally went into labour.
The second consultant was Sally’s treating obstetrician who, in Dr Boylan’s words, made an error of clinical judgment by not taking Sally in for induction of labour at about 36 or 38 weeks, ie two weeks before her due date.
“Both doctors have since left the hospital, the second doctor quite abruptly.”
The doctors were named during the inquest as Dr Tariq, who should have been the duty consultant in ICU, and Dr Murshid Ismail, Sally’s obstetrician, who was not on duty on February 4, 2013 when she gave birth in the hospital and died the day after.
Dr Ismail left the hospital shortly afterwards and is now believed to be in Saudi Arabia, but coroner Eamon MacGowan and other inquest officers were unable to locate him to give evidence.
Mr Murray said the family were calling on Health Miister Leo Varadkar to take immediate action so that the deficiencies highlighted by Dr Boylan are addressed.
The jury, after an absence of two hours and 15 minutes, returned a verdict that Sally died from infraction of the brain caused by HELLP syndrome and pre-eclampsia, a high-blood pressure pregnancy disorder.
The jury made three recommendations: that counselling be available in the post-natal care system, that a senior consultant be contacted immediately in the event of a similar emergency, and that there be an in-depth review of such incidents involving all personnel involved.