An inquest in Limerick has heard that the family of a 78-year-old woman who died in October 2017 was never told she had a potentially life-threatening illness.

Bridget O'Loughlin from Inch, Ennis, Co Clare, had suffered for several months prior to her death from severe abdominal pains, vomiting and diarrhea.

She had been treated at the Galway clinic, at the Bons Secours Hospital in Galway, and also later in August 2017 at University Hospital Limerick.

She underwent a number of investigations including abdominal CT scans, MRI Scans and a gastroscopy at the Bons Secours Hospital during a stay there in July 2017.

A CT scan on 24 July indicated she was suffering from mesenteric angina, a condition that affects the blood supply to the stomach, liver, colon and intestine.

Her daughter, Martina O'Loughlin, said they were never told of this diagnosis or its seriousness, and the discharge notes from Bons Secours Hospital on 4 August never made any reference to it either.

Martina O'Loughlin also disputes that Dr Deirdre Mullane, who treated her mother at Bons Secours Hospital, discussed her mother's diagnosis with the patient and her husband Patrick on 3 August.

Bridget O'Loughlin

Martina O'Loughlin said that the meeting never happened and there is a clear conflict of evidence on this matter.

Bridget O'Loughlin underwent emergency abdominal surgery when admitted to University Hospital Limerick on 17 August 2017 and died there on 4 October 2017 when her condition did not improve.

Her family said there was no mention of the mesenteric angina on her admission to UHL or in a GP referral letter.

Dr Brian Egan who treated her at Bons Secours Hospital said he ordered a CT abdominal scan because he had a hunch she may have had this condition, which he said can be life threatening.

But he said Bridget's case was very challenging and her symptoms were not typical of the condition.

Professor Mohamad Tubassam, a vascular surgeon who treated Mrs O'Loughlin at Bon Secours Hospital, confirmed that the discharge sheet as prepared by a member of the nursing staff did not mention this medical condition, when it should have.

The inquest heard that in a letter to the O'Loughlin family in 2019, the UL hospital group apologised very sincerely for the deficiencies in the care of their mother from her initial attendance at the ED until her death on 4 October 2017.

The letter said although the condition from which their mother suffered was grave - there is a possibility that she could have survived the episode of illness had the diagnosis been made earlier and appropriate care been instituted.

Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster told the inquest the cause of Mrs O'Loughlin's death was bronchial pneumonia following emergency surgery with cardiomyopathy and chronic kidney disease also being significant factors.

The inquest is hearing from a number of doctors over the next two days at Kilmallock Courthouse in Limerick.