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Frances Sheridan inquest prompts call for action to protect patients

1 December, 2005

Cavan-Monaghan TD and Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said the inquest into the death of Frances Sheridan following her discharge from Cavan General Hospital "raises profound questions and must prompt renewed action to protect patients".

He said: "The family of Frances Sheridan deserve our sympathy and support after their terrible ordeal. I regret to say that their ordeal has been compounded by the evidence given and the verdict returned at today's inquest. From the evidence it is clear that the full facts of Frances's condition were not known to the junior doctor who attended her in Cavan General Hospital. It is incredible that the file on Frances's earlier appendix operation was not available to the junior doctor. The reported evidence of the junior doctor suggests that this may have been because of a staffing issue in the hospital.

"It is equally incredible and totally unacceptable that the surgeon-on-call was not consulted - whether by omission or through the protocol then operating in the hospital.

"Profound questions are raised by the stark difference between the summing up of the coroner and the verdict of the jury. The coroner directed the jury to return a verdict of death by misadventure but they returned 'natural causes'. I will be demanding of the Minister for Health and Children and the Health Service Executive a full and detailed statement on the issues arising.

"We must now see appropriate action to protect patients from any recurrence of such an avoidable tragedy. Resources must be made available, including appropriate staffing as necessary, and practices must be put in place in which patients can have full confidence." ENDS

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