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HOSPITAL BLASTED AFTER WOMAN BLED TO DEATH; Doctor on duty 16 hours treated her for infection.

Byline: GEORGINA O'HALLORAN

A WOMAN bled to death two days after a successful breast removal operation - but was treated by doctors for an infection, an inquest was told yesterday.

Olive Murphy, 71, died of multiorgan failure after suffering shock caused by massive blood loss at the Mater Hospital on July 11 last year.

Counsel for the Murphy family, Jerry Healy, told the inquest Olive, from Athboy, Co Meath, was treated for an infection even though she was suffering internal blood loss.

He said: "The death was caused by the failure to treat hypovolemic shock [shock caused by blood loss]. She was treated for a urinary tract infection when at the time she was suffering from massive blood loss internally."

The inquest also heard one of the doctors treating Mrs Murphy, Dr Caroline Hernon, had been on duty since 7am on July 8 and had been at the hospital for 16 hours when she received the call to see her.

Mrs Murphy had a successful and uneventful mastectomy for breast cancer, with no excessive bleeding, on July 7. She was well the following day and consultant surgeon Mr Maurice Stokes was happy with the results.

The inquest was told there was no other cancer present but Mrs Murphy became extremely unwell two days later and suffered a heart attack at around 7.30am.

Doctors subsequently removed two litres of blood, 40 per cent of her blood volume, from her wound. Mrs Murphy developed renal failure and died on July 11.

Dublin City Coroner's Court heard the mother of one was treated for dehydration at around midnight on July 9 after members of the nursing staff found her on the floor complaining of dizziness.

EVIDENCE

She had vomited earlier and her blood pressure had fallen.

Dr Hernon, who discussed the case with the medical registrar on call, reviewed M r s Murphy again around 2.20am and concluded she had an infection, most probably a urinary tract infection.

Mrs Murphy, who had been put back on the anti-clotting medication Warfarin on the evening of July 8, was treated with an antibiotic.

Dr Hernon told the inquest she examined Mrs Murphy's chest and didn't see evidence of a haematoma, which is a blood clot in the tissue.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said it was a post-operative complication and recorded a verdict of death by medical misadventure.

He added: "Sadly it appears that during the day she seems to have been bleeding and developed a haematoma, which wasn't manifest until the collapse on the ninth."

The inquest was told Mrs Murphy would have been more vulnerable to any sudden drop in blood pressure because she had a heart valve problem and an enlarged heart.

Solicitor for the hospital John Gleeson said a wound care committee had been established at the facility since this case and is in the process of drawing up new guidelines.

Mr Healy said civil proceedings have already been instituted and liability has been admitted.

Dublin City Coroner's Court heard Mrs Murphy's Warfarin medication, which thins the blood, was stopped three days before the procedure and following tests on her blood Mr Stokes was happy to proceed with surgery.

Her husband Michael Murphy, her son and her two sisters attended the inquest yesterday.

Speaking after the inquest, her sister Eileen Castle said: "Hopefully it will never happen to anyone else and they will put some policy in place."

CAPTION(S):

GRIEVING Victim Olive Murphy's sister Eileen Castle at Coroner's Court in Dublin's Store Street yesterday WIDOWER Michael Murphy DUTY Dr Caroline Hernon SURGEON Maurice Stokes
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Dec 21, 2010
Words:594
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