Verdict reached in Aoife Johnston inquest

The 16-year-old died on December 19, 2022, in University Hospital Limerick.

After a four-day inquest in Kilmmallock courthouse into the tragic death of 16-year-old Aoife Johnston, a verdict has been delivered by the judge of medical misadventure this past Thursday, April 25. 

On December 17, 2022, in the hours leading up to the Clare teenager’s untimely death, Aoife felt unwell and sought out help from the walk in clinic, Shannondoc. There, she was diagnosed her with suspected sepsis, a life-threatening condition which comes as a result of infection or injury.

After her diagnosis, Aoife was rushed to University Hospital Limerick, where she laid on a trolley for up to 12 hours, due to severe overcrowding and understaffing issues. By the time Aoife was seen, her condition had become too severe. Following a series of delays in regards to her treatment, Aoife died on December 19, 2022, from meningitis. 

The sepsis protocol in UHL requires a patient presenting with symptoms to be seen by a doctor within 15 minutes of arrival. In this case, this was not followed. 

The coroner, John McNamara, has made four recommendations to stop something like this from happening again:

  1. A mark would be put on the outside of a patients’ chart, if presenting symptoms of sepsis. 
  2. The chart should be kept separate until a medical professional reviews it. 
  3. A formal plan of communication should be set in place among management in cases of difficulty, such as overcrowding. 
  4. Contacting management in cases of emergency should face no delay whatsoever. 

Aoife’s family have tirelessly advocated for the 16-year-old’s cause, wanting no family to go through what they had to go through ever again. They believe this can only be accomplished by opening another emergency department in the Mid-West region. 

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