THE Mercy University Hospital in Cork has offered ‘sincere condolences’ and an apology for distress caused to a Skibbereen woman over the death of her partner.
Geraldine Barry of Lakemarsh, Church Cross, Skibbereen, broke down in tears in the High Court this week when she told how she watched her partner die, weeks after an operation at Mercy University Hospital and how she was not told there was sepsis.
Geraldine Barry said the term ‘septic shock’ was never used to her and she watched ‘an awful thing unfold’.
She was giving evidence in her action against the Cork hospital which has admitted liability in the post-operative care of her partner Christopher Sayer, after a colon operation five years ago.
Mr Sayer (70) died on April 19, 2010. Ms Barry’s claim is also for nervous shock.
Mr Sayer, who suffered from cancer, had a colon operation at the Mercy Hospital on March 11, 2010. Initially he appeared to make a good recovery, but subsequently became unwell on the evening of March 15th and developed septic shock due to a leak and had to have further surgery on March 17th.
It was claimed the hosptial staff at Mercy University Hospital did not act with due expedition in diagnosing and treating the leak.
Over the following weeks, his condition did not improve and he died on April 19th.
The court heard the hospital admitted liabiity in relation to Mr Sayer’s post-operative care and the case is before Mr Justice Anthony Barr for assessment of damages only.
Opening the case, Liam Reidy SC said palliative care was far from sufficient in that Mr Sayer’s mouth became ulcertated.
At one stage before her partner’s death, Mr Reidy said a doctor at the bedside asked if a post mortem was required. There was, counsel said, a lack of communication and insensitivity.
Counsel said if Mr Sayer had been properly treated it would have been successful and there was a 77% chance of him being alive after five years.
There were, he said, signs of developing sepsis and if this had been dealt with the second operation would have been successful and Mr Sayer would not have suffered cerebral damage.
Ms Barry, he said, who broke down on the first anniversary of her partner’s death, is now ‘profoundly lonely’, suffering from flashbacks and had to give up her job.
In evidence, Ms Barry said she met Mr Sayer who was a retired antiques dealer, and a well known jazz musician, in Cork in 2005.
She said there was an age difference, but ‘you know when something is for you’. She said he was a witty, funny, handsome man and they enjoyed each other’s company and moved in together in June 2006.
Before he had gone into hosptial, he had signalled they they would be getting married.
‘I had the best life could offer me. One of the great pleasures in my life was to come home to him. I am devastated that I can’t do that anymore.’
She said in dreams about the hospital she is shouting at people to do something.
A night sister said he was a ‘little bit septic’ but Ms Barry told the court the term ‘septic shock’ was never used to her.
Ms Barry said that as her partner lay dying, her confidence in the care of the hospital had completely gone.
‘I did not trust anybody. I thought if I was not there when he passed, nobody would have noticed.’
On Wednesday, Oonagh McCrann SC said she had been instructed on behalf of the hospital to offer sincere condolences and an apology for distress caused.
The case before Mr Justice Anthony Barr continues.