BY SEÁN McCÁRTHAIGH
AN elderly West Cork woman died after a surgical wire penetrated her heart during an operation, an inquest has heard.
Maureen Carrig, an 81-year-old mother of three from Ardmanagh, Schull, died shortly after undergoing elective surgery at the Beacon Hospital in Sandyford, Co Dublin on May 27th, 2019.
An inquest at Dublin Coroner’s Court this week heard that Ms Carrig had a number of heart complications and was referred for an operation to replace an aortic valve by doctors at the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork after she complained of suffering a shortness of breath in 2019.
Dr Cróchán O’Sullivan, a consultant cardiologist at the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork and the Beacon Hospital, told the inquest that doctors had considered that they had three options for treating the patient. He said Ms Carrig would have had a 50% chance of dying within two years if they had decided to do nothing, while to redo major heart surgery that had already been performed on the patient was high risk.
He said the preferred option chosen by a multi-disciplinary team at the Bon Secours Hospital was to replace Ms Carrig’s aortic valve in an operation which would not require open heart surgery.
However, he stressed that it was still a high risk procedure which had been explained to the patient.
Dr O’Sullivan, who told the inquest he carried out around 30 similar operations each year, said he chose to perform the elective surgery at the Beacon Hospital for safety reasons because of the availability of additional medical facilities.
The cardiologist recalled that he experienced complications during the surgery while trying to manipulate the surgical wire into place which had led to a perforation of the patient’s heart.
The inquest heard that the tear resulted in 1.5 litres of blood having to be drained out of a cavity outside the patient’s heart. Asked by relatives of Ms Carrig if he would have done anything different in hindsight, Dr O’Sullivan said he would change ‘one small step’ in relation to introducing the wire through a catheter which he admitted he had ‘not considered before as risky’.
Doctors waited 90 minutes after Ms Carrig experienced a sudden loss of blood pressure before carrying out further cardiac surgery.Dr O’Sullivan said the made a decision within five minutes of the emergency to wait and see if the situation might resolve itself.
The coroner, Dr Crona Gallagher, returned a verdict of death due to complications of a medical procedure based on the evidence.