The Coombe apologises for failings in care to mother who died a week after giving birth

Karen McEvoy was only 24 years old and had given birth to her third child at the Dublin hospital just a week before her death
The Coombe apologises for failings in care to mother who died a week after giving birth

The Coombe Hospital has apologised for "failings in care" to a young mother who died of sepsis on Christmas Day three years ago.

Karen McEvoy was only 24 years old and had given birth to her third child at the Dublin hospital just a week before.

Her family, including her partner Barry Kelly and their children Toby (3), Jake (6) and two-year-old Ruby, settled High Court actions over her death on Tuesday.

Afterwards outside the Four Courts, Mr Kelly said Ms McEvoy was an amazing young woman and mother.

"Her death was completely preventable had she been properly treated and cared for by the Coombe Hospital. Instead, she was wrongly diagnosed with sciatica when in fact she had sepsis," he said.

Mr Kelly, who was engaged to Ms McEvoy at the time of her death, added: "No amount of money will ever change anything for myself and our three children."

Flanked by his legal team Esther Earley BL and solicitor Niamh O’Brien, he said "hopefully our loss will increase the awareness of sepsis in maternity hospitals in the country."

Failings in care

Ms McEvoy from Blessington, Co Wicklow gave birth to her third child Ruby on December 18th, 2018 but became ill and complained of lower back and abdominal pain in the days after.

She died on Christmas Day 2018 having developed maternal sepsis and septic shock secondary to infection.

The letter of apology to Mr Kelly from the Master of the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Professor Michael O’Connell, was read to the High Court.

It expressed sincere apologies to Mr Kelly and his three children "for our failings in care afforded to Ms McEvoy at this hospital on December 23rd, 2018."

It added: "I fully accept that these failings should not have happened. I can’t begin to imagine the consequences of Karen’s sad loss on you, Jake, Toby, Ruby, and your extended family and Karen’s family."

The letter concluded: "We in the Coombe are truly sorry for the distress that Karen’s death has caused".

Tragic case

Liability was admitted in the cases, and the settlements in the actions over Ms McEvoy's death and for nervous shock were reached after mediation.

The details of the settlements are confidential, but the court heard very substantial compensation was involved.

The family’s counsel, Richard Kean SC with Esther Earley BL, told the court liability was admitted in the tragic case.

He said it was a "calamitous event" in the lives of the Kellys and McEvoys, and Mr Kelly had been left without the woman he loved whom he planned to marry.

It is an appalling tragedy and our experts would say that if Karen got a modicum of treatment she would have made an uneventful recovery

Approving the settlements, which includes the statutory mental distress payment of €35,000, Mr Justice Paul Coffey conveyed his deepest sympathy to the families on their tragic loss.

Ms McEvoy's son, Jake Kelly of Redbog, Blessington, Co Wicklow had through his father Barry Kelly sued the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital, Dublin.

The six-year-old boy had sued on his own behalf and on behalf of his family, including his brother Toby (3) and two-year-old Ruby and extended family.

Unwell

Ms McEvoy was admitted to the Coombe Hospital on December 18th, 2018, and she had her baby girl, Ruby, just before 6am. Mother and baby were discharged from hospital the next day, but Ms McEvoy became increasingly unwell.

On December 23rd, Ms McEvoy went back to the Coombe Hospital with her baby daughter for routine screening of the baby, and it was claimed she relayed her own complaints and was advised to attend the hospital emergency department.

She attended the emergency department complaining of severe back and abdominal pain, and feeling generally unwell.

It was claimed Ms McEvoy was not admitted to hospital, and she was discharged without her condition having been diagnosed.

On Christmas Day, Ms McEvoy’s condition was very grave, and she was transferred by ambulance to Naas General Hospital.

She arrived at the hospital after midday and died before 4pm from multi-organ failure with septicaemia due to an infection.

Failures

It was claimed there was a failure to provide any adequate treatment to Ms McEvoy and that she was caused to contract the Group A streptococcus infection.

There was also an alleged failure to heed complaints by Ms McEvoy prior to her discharge on December 19th and a failure to carry out an accurate assessment or investigation of her prior to her discharge.

It was also claimed there was a failure to investigate the cause of her severe low abdominal back pain and raised heart rate before her discharge and a failure to adequately examine or scan her to ensure the placenta had been fully removed.

She had been discharged, it was alleged, at a time when she was unfit for discharge and there was a failure to consider she might be developing maternal sepsis.

There was also, it was claimed, a failure to notice when Ms McEvoy presented herself to the hospital emergency department on December 23rd, that she was suffering from suspected sepsis particularly in light of her complaints and the fact that she had recently given birth.

There was, it was further claimed, a failure to arrange an urgent hospital admission for treatment.

It was further alleged there was a failure to follow all protocols in place at the Coombe Hospital for the diagnosis, early recognition and management of maternal infection and sepsis.

Ms McEvoy, it was claimed, was denied a timely diagnosis of her condition and denied admission for essential treatment therapeutic interventions, which resulted in her condition deteriorating, culminating in her untimely death.

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