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Doctors query findings into death of patient



A second pathologist will have to review the file of a 60 years old man, who died almost a year ago in the Galway Clinic, as the two consultants who had attended him could not accept that he had died from pneumonia.

Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, the Coroner for West Galway, made the unusual move after hearing two hours of evidence at Galway Courthouse. The pathologist who had carried out the post mortem examination was no longer living in Ireland, and could not be called-on to back-up his findings.

“If it is pneumonia, I will return a verdict of bronchial pneumonia and medical misadventure, as he was not given the appropriate treatment at that time,” Dr MacLoughlin said.

“The pathologist is an independent professional hired by myself – once the opinion is challenged, I feel the integrity of the court is challenged, and the integrity of the court has to be above all suspicion.”

Patrick Kelly of Lifford, Co Clare, underwent surgery at the Galway Clinic on January 8 last, to treat a large rectal polyp.

The surgery had been postponed from the previous month as his surgeon, Professor William Joyce, was of the opinion that a low platelet count could lead to post-op bleeding.

By the following month, Mr Kelly had followed recommendations, was in better shape, and was anxious to proceed with the surgery.

Professor Joyce described his patient’s post-op recovery as “excellent” and when he performed an examination on January 14, he said that Mr Kelly was “incredibly well.” He died the following afternoon, however.

Professor Joyce said that in almost 30 years of practice he had rarely seen such a progressive death, in the absence of cardiac disease or sepsis.

He could not accept, either, the findings of the consultant pathologist, Dr Frans Colesky, that his patient had died from pneumonia.

“In my own mind, I’m still unclear as to what exactly the cause of death was,” he said.

He further reiterated that the surgery had been successful, and that Mr Kelly had developed no complications ‘locally’ as a result of the polypectomy – the post mortem examination confirmed this.

However, barrister for the Kelly family, Patrick Whyms, referred to the nursing notes which stated that staff had voiced their concerns on two occasions to senior colleagues.

He further said that Mr Kelly had been complaining of a worsening distended abdomen – his son compared it to a woman expecting twins – from January 12 up until his death on the afternoon of January 15.

Doctors on call were not concerned, however, as he was not vomiting, his abdomen was not tender, and bowel movements were normal.

When asked, Professor Joyce said that the distention was common after this type of surgery, while the bowel gets back to normal. He said that a chest x-ray on the afternoon of January 14 and the early morning of January 15 showed no signs of abnormalities, such as pleural effusions.

He further said if the Consultant pathologist’s findings were to be accepted, that Mr Kelly did indeed suffer from bronchial pneumonia, it was “an unusual presentation.”

However, Dr MacLoughlin said he would have to give precedence to the microscopic diagnosis made by Dr Colesky, rather than to Prof. Joyce’s clinical opinion.

Surgeon, Mr Osama El Sadig, also questioned the conclusions drawn by the pathologist, and said that he was also at a loss as to what had caused the death.

Mr Kelly’s son, Brian, said that his father’s health had visibily disimproved in the days following his surgery.

“(On the 14th) he looked worse than when I’d seen him in the ICU a few days before,” he recalled.

“He had no energy to shake my hand, he was very weak. He didn’t want us to see him like this, after such a high in ICU to this low.”

Dr Frans Colesky’s report, which was read into the record by Dr MacLoughlin concluded that the cause of death was pneumonia in a post-operative setting.

For the first time in his 30 year career as Coroner, Dr MacLoughlin made the unusual move to have a second pathologist examine the file.

“I’m doing it out of fairness to the doctors, who find it hard to understand how the sequence of events occurred . . . although it is a very well-recognised condition, but thankfully does not occur very frequently because of the intervention of early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment,” he said.

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest



Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.

A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.

For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.

These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.

“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.

In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.

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Connacht Tribune

Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races



Loughrea’s Marathon Man Jarlath Fitzgerald.

On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.

But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.

“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”

We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.

Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.

To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.

He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.

Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

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