Secrecy surrounds inquiry into teenager’s death in Limerick hospital

The late Aoife Johnston

THE University of Limerick Hospitals Group has refused to reveal the make-up of the team it appointed to inquire into the death of a teenager who died of meningitis at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) on December 19.

A spokesman for the group said they were not commenting any further on a statement issued last Friday which confirmed that a ‘Serious Incident Management Team’ was established and a comprehensive investigation would take place.

However, the spokesman was unable to state when the team was established and if their investigation was the only inquiry being held into incident.

After it was revealed that 16-year-old Aoife Johnston was left dying for more than 13 hours on a trolley in the emergency department at UHL, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar called for a comprehensive investigation.

Medical guidelines for acute bacterial meningitis state the condition is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately with intravenous antibiotics and steroids in some circumstances.

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The guidelines also state that treatment should not be delayed while awaiting the results of diagnostic tests for the condition.

However it is understood that Aoife was left for between 13 and 16 hours on a trolley before being given antibiotics to fight the infection.

By then it was too late to save her life and her family believe she did not receive the treatment expected for a patient in her condition.

Mr Varadkar said he wanted an inquiry to establish whether Aoife’s death was preventable “done as thoroughly and as quickly as possible”.

“I know that’s what the family expects, and that’s what they have a right to expect,” he said.