Nurse denies telling Michael Kivlehan to stop ‘eavesdropping’

Inquests hears of angry exchanges between staff and husband of seriously-ill woman

A nurse who cared for Dhara Kivlehan at Sligo General Hospital told an inquest today that she did not recall grabbing Michael Kivlehan by the arm.

Mr Kivlehan has told the inquest he was “extremely shocked” by the behaviour of a nurse who grabbed his arm, led him back to his wife’s bed and told him to “stop eavesdropping”, while he was waiting to speak to doctors about his wife.

Asked whether she had told Mr Kivlehan to stop eavesdropping, intensive care unit nurse Siobhan Surlis replied: “No, I would never use those words.”

Roger Murray, solicitor for the Kivlehan family told Ms Surlis his instructions were that she was the nurse who made this comment to the ill woman’s husband. He also said she told Mr Kivlehan that if wanted to make himself useful he should go downstairs and get his wife a drink.


Witness said she had no recollection at all of grabbing Mr Kivlehan by the arm. “I might have asked him to go to the shop,” she said.

Dhara Kivlehan (29), died in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital on September 28th, 2010, four days after being airlifted from Sligo hospital where she had given birth to her first baby.

The coroner’s court in Carrick-on-Shannon also heard evidence today of an exchange between Mr Kivlehan and consultant anaesthetist Dr Seamus Crowley, who said he was “provoked to ask if he was a nurse or a paramedic”.

Dr Crowley told the inquest of an encounter with Mr Kivlehan in the maternity ward the day after Dhara had delivered her baby by Caesarean section. He said he had noted that Mr Kivlehan was “confrontational and angry”.

He had tried to explain to Mr Kivlehan that that there was no immediate acute indication to admit his wife to the intensive care unit and that she would be continually monitored on the maternity ward.

In his statement, Dr Crowley said Mr Kivlehan made frequent references to not trusting doctors.

“He accused me of patronising him when I openly questioned what ICU care would have to offer over the current care that she was receiving on the ward”. The consultant said he tried to reassure Mr Kivlehan that he was simply thinking out loud “to inform him of my thought processes”.

He added: “I noted that I was misled by Mr Kivlehan’s attitude and was provoked to ask if he was a nurse or paramedic.”

He said Mr Kivlehan explained that he was previously in a road crash and had spent a lengthy time in King’s College hospital “with possible issues regarding misdiagnoses which led to his mistrust of doctors”.

He said he had reassured Mr Kivlehan that his wife had been assessed by the obstetric team and himself and that the obstetric staff would remain in close contact with ICU. She would be reviewed again if she deteriorated.

Asked whether he agreed that Dhara was in acute renal failure on January 22nd nd, the day after her baby was born, Dr Crowley said in his opinion “she had ongoing acute renal injury”.

The inquest is continuing.

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh, a contributor to The Irish Times, reports from the northwest of Ireland