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Pensioner bled to death from a ruptured stomach as surgeons argued over treatment

Clinical negligence claim


As experienced surgeons argued over where an elderly man should be treated, he was left to bleed to death from a ruptured stomach in a hospital bed.

Pat Joe Walsh, 75, died unnecessarily in Monaghan General Hospital last October as he awaited emergency surgery on a ruptured stomach.

Mr Walsh was first admitted to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda on 20 September 2005 with a broken hip. He was also treated for a bleeding ulcer and after showing signs of recovery he was transferred to Monaghan for physiotherapy several days later. However, his ulcer began bleeding again, which led to the need for an operation.

Senior medics at the nearby Cavan General Hospital and Our Lady Of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda refused to accept him despite having room for him in their critical care units.

As a result the Carrickmacross pensioner didn't receive the potentially life-saving operation and he bled to death.

An independent inquiry into Mr Walsh's death by leading surgeons on behalf of the Health Service Executive, found the treatment he received fell short of good clinical practice and the unwillingness of surgeons in Drogheda and Cavan to immediately treat Mr Walsh was unacceptable. It severely criticised the role of consultants and found there was systematic evidence of lack of engagement between management and clinicians, which heavily contributed to the circumstances of Mr Walsh's death.

The Health and Safety Executive said due to the seriousness of the report's findings it would be passed on to the Medical Council.