Teen died four days after emergency surgery to remove stomach, inquest told

By Louise Roseingrave

A 19-year-old died following emergency surgery to remove his stomach, an inquest in Dublin has heard.

A coroner returned a verdict of medical misadventure in relation to the death of Dean McMahon (19) of St Berach’s Place, Kilbarrack, Dublin 5.

Dean McMahon. Pic: Provided by the McMahon family

The teenager, who loved soccer, was described by his family as kind, loving and gentle. He died on June 20 2015 at Beaumont Hospital.

Mr McMahon was due to start a new job at Croke Park the same day.

In a statement after the inquest the man’s family called on the Minister for Health to open a high-dependency unit for post-operative care.

“We call upon Minister Harris to do everything in his power to address these issues and to ensure that an avoidable tragedy never happens again and save other families from the relentless pain and sense of loss we now suffer everyday,” the family said in their statement.

“Our lives have been devastated by Dean’s loss.”

Healthy and well up to May 2015, Mr McMahon was initially hospitalised with peri-anal abscess on June 3.

On June 15 he was diagnosed with toxic megacolon, an acute and rare complication of Chron’s disease.

Doctors performed surgery to remove his stomach the following day, June 16.

The procedure is required in 99 per cent of cases of toxic megacolon, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.

The young man was initially recovering well and had eaten his first meal three days after his surgery. However on the morning of June 20 he reported feeling unwell.

A nurse called a doctor seeking an immediate review of the patient.

The inquest heard from SHO on duty Dr Constantin Bartells who described the patient as light headed and weak.

On examining Mr McMahon's test results the doctor found him to be ‘more acutely unwell’ than initially thought and he tried to contact the consultant surgeon on call at 8.59am.

However his call went unanswered.

Mr McMahon went into cardiac arrest and died later that morning despite efforts to save his life.

He had suffered a hemorrhage due to a perforated blood vessel that reopened four days after surgery.

The cause of death given by Pathologist Dr Christian Gullman was secondary hemorrhage due to reopening of a blood vessel in association with chronic peritonitis, four days after surgery for toxic megacolon in association with Chron’s disease.

Beaumont hospital apologised for failures in care that lead to the young man’s death and the inquest heard that the hospital was prioritising the findings of an internal hospital review conducted after Mr McMahon’s death.

Improved communication systems with on-call consultants have been implemented, the court heard.

The report also recommended the implementation of a high dependency post-operative care unit.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane endorsed the findings of the hospital report and returned a verdict of medical misadventure.

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