Hospital apologises over death of man (26) after bowel obstruction

Court told John Paul McCloskey’s life could have been saved if he had a timely operation

Angela McCloskey, mother of the late John Paul McCloskey from Co Donegal, is pictured at the Four Courts on Thursday. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Angela McCloskey, mother of the late John Paul McCloskey from Co Donegal, is pictured at the Four Courts on Thursday. Photograph: Collins Courts.


A hospital has apologised unreservedly to the family of a 26-year-old who it is claimed died because he did not get a timely operation on a bowel obstruction.

John Paul McCloskey died on November 22nd, 2016 due to a brain injury and multi-organ failure after his bowel was perforated, causing septic shock.

His family on Thursday settled a High Court action over the death of the Co Donegal man and the care he received at Letterkenny University Hospital. Liability was admitted in the case.

In a letter read to the court, the hospital’s general manager Seán Murphy expressed sincere regret over “the devastating loss of John Paul”.

“I wish to apologise unreservedly that the standard of care delivered to John Paul during his admission at our hospital was not to the standard that we believe would be appropriate,” he said.

“I fully recognise that nothing that I nor the team here at Letterkenny University Hospital can say, can in any way make up for the tragic loss which you have experienced and there is a huge regret within the team here that John Paul did not receive better more organised care during his time with us.”


Counsel for the McCloskey family, Hugh O’Keeffe SC with Doireann O’Mahony BL and Damien Tansey Solicitors, told the High Court that John Paul was admitted to the hospital’s emergency department on October 11th, 2016 with abdominal pain.

Mr O’Keeffe said a CT scan five days later confirmed an obstruction in the small bowel linked to Crohn’s disease. He said experts on their side would say there should have been an operation by October 19th, which would have saved his life. However, John Paul suffered a perforation of the bowel and died in another hospital on November 22nd, 2016.

An inquest into his death last year concluded that John Paul died as a result of brain injuries after the perforation of his small bowel following a systems failure at Letterkenny General Hospital which led to medical misadventure.

John Paul’s brother, Brian McCloskey, of Taobh an Struthan, Buncrana, Co Donegal, sued the HSE over the circumstances of the death and care he received at the hospital in October and November 2016.

It was claimed that there was a failure to exercise reasonable and ordinary care and skill in and around the management, care and treatment of John Paul. It was claimed that a gross delay was allowed to occur in surgical intervention and there was a failure to operate by noon on October 19th, 2016 when John Paul’s bowel had been obstructed for more than eight days.


The court was told that a situation was allowed to arise whereby he had an episode of fatal septic shock secondary to small bowel perforation due to unrelieved obstruction for a period of at least nine days.

The court heard the McCloskey family is devastated to know that had an operation been performed at any stage before noon on October 19th, 2016, the fatal outcome would have been avoided.

John Paul’s mother, Angela McCloskey, told Mr Justice Kevin Cross the family was glad of the apology, received by letter last year, and that she would not wish what happened in her son’s case on anyone.

“My lovely darling son was too big for this world,” she said.

Approving a confidential settlement, Mr Justice Cross noted the apology and offered his sympathies to the McCloskey family for John Paul’s untimely and unnecessary death at such a young age.