The family of a 76-year-old builder who died of sepsis following a routine hip replacement operation at a private hospital is to sue the facility for what it believes was a preventable death.John Brennan, from Portlaoise, Co Laois, died from sepsis triggered by bronchial pneumonia on November 28, 2017, an inquest heard yesterday.Mr Brennan had undergone elective hip replacement surgery at the Beacon Hospital in south Dublin on November 23, 2017.Despite the success of the surgery, Mr Brennan’s condition deteriorated rapidly and he developed multi-organ failure before being transferred to the hospital’s ICU in the early hours of November 28 – he died later that morning.
The cause of death was sepsis due to bilateral pneumonia in his lungs following the operation, according to the verdict of Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane at the Dublin District Coroner’s Court.
However, his children, Deirdre (52), Niall (50) and Emma (42), said outside court they believe their father’s death could have been prevented “had he had better care”.
“There’s a two-tiered medical system here and you’d expect when you pay for treatment you’d get more attention,” said Deirdre.
“He went in to have a routine hip operation and didn’t come out. He had never been sick in his life and had never been in hospital before.“
The family believes that this was preventable.
”The inquest heard the hospital’s medical registrar was the only doctor on duty on the ward when Mr Brennan’s condition started to deteriorate around 10pm on November 27.
The junior doctor told the inquest that she was ultimately responsible for 120 patients during her 12-hour shift that began at 8pm on November 27.
She said she was “very concerned” that his body temperature was very high and a blood test showed he had a high white blood cell count, which “revealed he was unwell”.
Mr Brennan was transferred to the ICU. His family was informed that the prognosis was not good and a priest was called.
Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mr Paul Nicholson told the inquest the surgery itself was successful and Mr Brennan showed no signs of infection from the surgical wound or other red flags of possible complications.
He said Mr Brennan was given a standard dose of antibiotics for 24 hours after the surgery and was walking on crutches the day afterwards.
However, on the second day following the surgery, he said he got a call from another doctor on duty who believed a test for sepsis should be done.Mr Nicholson said he agreed,but when he examined Mr Brennan the following day he found no “signs of clinical sepsis” or other abnormalities.
He said he did not receive “any communication from the ward” until the evening of November 27, when he got a call advising him that Mr Brennan “had collapsed of unknown sepsis” and that his prognosis was not good.
Mr Nicholson said he was never informed of the result of the sepsis test conducted on November 25, nor had Mr Brennan been given antibiotics after the initial post-operative dose.
“I got no communication at all that anything was untoward until after midnight,” he said.
“He was well when I saw him and I was stunned when I got a call saying he had deteriorated.”
He told the inquest it was“extremely rare” for a patient to die of complications from a hip replacement, adding only two other patients died of complications in his 20 years as a surgeon, one who had a stroke and another who suffered a blood clot.
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