HSE investigate death of young woman at Limerick hospital from suspected meningitis

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

THE HSE has declined to comment further on the death of a young woman at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in February from a suspected virulent strain of meningitis.

THE HSE has declined to comment further on the death of a young woman at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in February from a suspected virulent strain of meningitis.

The 23-year-old, who is believed to be from County Limerick, died days after first presenting at the emergency department, where the initial diagnosis was one of gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach lining. The HSE is now investigating the circumstances of her death.

Details of the case were contained in a letter from Anne Doherty, chief executive of the Mid-Western Regional Hospitals Group, to Dr Tracey Cooper, chief executive of the patient safety watchdog, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA). The document was released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act.

It outlines that the young woman was referred by her GP to the Limerick emergency department. According to reports, she was seen by a junior doctor who diagnosed her with gastritis. She was put on a drip; given other medication and was “observed in the emergency department for a number of hours” before being discharged after her condition had “improved”.

Ms Doherty’s letter states the patient re-presented two days later feeling “very unwell”. She was transferred to the critical care unit with suspected meningitis and died three days later.

In a statement issued on Monday, the HSE said: “The incident is currently being fully investigated in line with the HSE’s quality and patient safety review process”.

“This seeks to ascertain the facts relating to how the incident occurred and makes recommendations to minimise the risk of similar incidents occurring in future. Once completed, the findings of the review will be provided to the next of kin in keeping with our policy and a final report will be sent to HIQA.”

On Tuesday, the HSE declined to comment any further on the case. It said an inquest would be conducted at Limerick Coroner’s Court in due course.

HIQA confirmed it was being kept abreast of the HSE review of the case although the authority is not conducting its own investigation.

Under the terms of a “special reporting framework” for acute hospitals in the Mid-West - which HIQA began in February 2011 - HSE managers in the region have been required to report any adverse incidents to HIQA.

This arises from safety risks identified in meetings between the HSE and HIQA in late 2010 and early 2011.