Student’s death from rare disease ruled a medical misadventure

Mayo University Hospital apologises to family of Adam Mulchrone (21) who died in 2019

Adam Mulchrone, who died in January 2019 at the age of 21. He played football for Sligo IT and Westport United AFC. Photograph: Mayo Football League

Adam Mulchrone, who died in January 2019 at the age of 21. He played football for Sligo IT and Westport United AFC. Photograph: Mayo Football League

 

A verdict of medical misadventure has been returned by a coroner at an inquest into the death of a young man from an extremely rare disease.

Adam Mulchrone (21), from Sandyhill, Westport, Co Mayo, died at Mayo University Hospital (MUH) in Castlebar on January 27th, 2019 from multi-organ failure due to or as a result of meningococcal septicaemia.

Mr Mulchrone, a student and talented footballer, took seriously ill while training with Westport United on the day before he died and was admitted to the MUH emergency unit suffering from a headache, vomiting and a high temperature. He was discharged hours later but was readmitted when his condition worsened and then died there.

Dr Tamas Nemeth, who carried out a postmortem, told Coroner for Mayo Pat O’Connor that there was no evidence of Mr Mulchrone having meningitis or encephalitis.

He gave the cause of death as multi-organ failure due to, or as a consequence of, meningococcal septicaemia with neisseria meningitidis infection an antecedent cause.

Uncommon disease

Dr Nemeth said he had carried out some 4,000 postmortems in his 25 years in pathology and had dealt with only two cases of meningococcal septicaemia.

Conor Halpin SC, for MUH and hospital staff, said it was accepted that Mr Mulchrone’s vital signs should have been reassessed before he was discharged.

Ciaran Tansey, solicitor for the Mulchrone family, had asked for a verdict of misadventure, stating that there was ample evidence for such a finding. Mr Halpin said he would not oppose such a verdict.

The coroner said he was heartened that the hospital had dealt with the matter in a fair, open and accountable way. He said Mr Mulchrone’s death must have been harrowing for his family

In a letter read to the court on behalf of the hospital and staff, MUH general manager Catherine Donoghue told the Mulchrone family that “we are truly sorry for the pain and distress caused you”.

Mr Tansey said Mr Mulchrone was in the prime of life and that his death was an enormous tragedy for his family. He said the Muchrone family wanted to highlight to the public the symptoms of the disease – vomiting, headache and diarrohea – which caused their son’s death.

“Hopefully this will be the last case (of meningococcal septicaemia) which Dr. Nemath will have to deal with.”