Inquest told of 'serious breakdown in communication' at Sligo hospital

Wednesday 05 February 2014 19.22
Hospital's communication criticised at inquest

An inquest into the death of an 18-year-old man has heard that there was a serious breakdown in communication between the man's family and staff at Sligo Regional Hospital where he died following a crash in 2009.

Jonathan Bruen, from Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon was travelling home from work in Sligo on 2 March 2009 at 7.30am when his car crossed onto the wrong side of the road and hit an oncoming car head-on.

The inquest into his death heard that he suffered a number of fractures but it was thought his injuries were not life-threatening.

He underwent surgery and was transferred to ICU where he developed a fat embolism and died at 12.35pm on 3 March.

Coroner Dr Des Moran said that a fat embolism was an unfortunate side-effect of a severe bone injury.

Mr Bruen's parents asked exactly when their son was operated on and were told the surgery began at 3pm and ended at 9pm.

The couple were very upset in court.

Josephine Bruen said that nobody came to them.

"We were waiting there for him and he was asking for us and nobody told us where he was - we could have been with him and held his hand", she said.

Dr Moran said there had been a serious breakdown in communication and this has to be addressed by the hospital.

"I know hospitals can be busy and this was a long operation but you should have been told," he said.

Solicitor for the hospital Brian Armstrong said he could not comment on what the parents had said as he was not aware of it beforehand and the family said they did not complain about it at the time.

Dr Moran said that the family deserve an explanation as to why they were not kept informed although, he said, the hospital probably thought this was not a life-threatening case at the time.

Mrs Bruen said that this would not bring her son back but the coroner said it may help someone else in the future with better communication.