HSE apologises to Family over Father’s 2011 Death Due to Medical Misadventure

An apology was issued by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to the family of a man in relation to his death at St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny in 2011.

John Joseph Comerford was brought to the hospital in Kilkenny during March 2011 for hernia repair surgery. Unfortunately, the High Court was told, the 68-year-old passed away three days later in “very distressing circumstances”. An inquest into his death in 2014 returned a verdict of medical misadventure.

The family said that Mr Comerford was brought back to hospital two days following his hernia surgery with shortness of breath, abdominal pain and low blood pressure. A CT scan showed fluid in his abdominal wall and after the site of the operation was opened again, faecal smelling fluid was drained away from the area. When he was admitted to the intensive care unit, he suffered two cardiac arrests and passed away on 21 March 2011. As a result of his death, Mr Comerford’s family initiated a medical negligence case against the HSE. In the case liability was admitted by the HSE and the case was settled for an undisclosed sum.

An apology from the HSE on behalf of St Luke’s General Hospital was read out before the court. it said: “We apologise to Mrs Comerford and to her children and extended family for the events leading to the death of Mr John Joseph Comerford in the 21st of March 2011. We do not underestimate the distress and sadness caused to Mrs Comerford and her children by the loss of their husband and father. We offer our sincere condolences”.

Mr Comerford’s daughter Karen Brown, speaking outside the court, said she is happy the case has finished but is “disgusted” that it has taken this so long for this to be achieved. She said: “It feels very sad that it’s taken this long to happen. It’s sad my kids have missed out on their granddad. They adored him for the little time they knew him”.

Mr Comerford’s son, David, also made a statement following the case and described his father as an keen gardener who came to Ireland from the UK to retire in the late 1990s. He said his dad was very fond of the allotments and carried on working as a builder when he came here. He and his sister said their mother, who is now in her late 70s and was not in court on the day, had to move back to the UK since her husband’s death to be nearer to her children. he said: “You mourn your loved ones and it never goes away, but this just brings it to the surface time and time again. You think of him every day.”

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