herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Mother died in
hospital after
her ventilator broke down

A Dublin family has been ripped apart by the death of a mum of three who died in hospital after her ventilator stopped working.

Diana Martin (34), from Fettercairn Road, Tallaght, died on May 31 last year after going into respiratory failure having developed pneumonia.

At the inquest into her death, it emerged that a ventilator used during her resuscitation at Tallaght Hospital stopped working without sounding a warning.

Her eldest son, Dean, who marked his 20th birthday this week, has been raising his younger brother, Jamie (16), since their mother's death. Their sister, nine-year-old Cadie, is living with their aunt.

Dean said he became "physically sick" when details surrounding the faulty ventilator were discussed.

"We haven't been the same since she died," he said. "Unfortunately, I have to get on with it. I've to deal with the consequences. It's after putting an awful lot of burden on me."

Ms Martin arrived at Tallaght A&E at 8.39am on May 31, 2013 after calling an ambulance because she was having difficulty breathing.

alcoholic

Initially, she was able to give a medical history when she was seen in the resuscitation room.

The court heard she had a background of alcoholic liver disease and had been hospitalised four weeks previously.

She had been feeling unwell for two days prior to her final admission, with difficulty breathing. Her condition deteriorated within an hour of her arrival, and at 9.30am she went into cardiac arrest.

She was ventilated and intubated and spontaneous circulation returned following CPR.

She went into cardiac arrest for a second time at 9.55am and CPR was again administered.

It was during the latter part of this attempt to revive her that the registrar realised the ventilator was off. CPR was continued, but Ms Martin was pronounced dead at 10.15am.

A report from Dr James Gray, consultant in emergency medicine at Tallaght Hospital, read into the record by coroner Dr Brian Farrell, said the ventilator may have been off for as long as seven minutes.

Dr Gray's report also said it had not been turned off manually and no alarms went off. The coroner said pathologist Dr Paul Crotty gave the cause of death as septic shock due to bronchopneumonia on a background of cirrhosis.

Dr Crotty was aware of the ventilator issue when he carried out the post-mortem, said Dr Farrell, and in his report states that he thinks it "unlikely" that it was a critical contributory factor to death. Dr Farrell adjourned the inquest to August 25.

hnews@herald.ie

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