The grieving husband of a former local woman, Lynn Lewis, said he was grateful that the Ulster Independent Clinic’s operating team had apologised for causing her death.
Mark Lewis went on to criticise them for “the fundamental aspects of care denied to my wife by the clinic, the surgeon, the anaesthetist and the nursing staff. I hope they have learned clear and powerful lessons”.
He added that the entire family - including Lynn’s parents, her four sisters, daughters Jane (10) and Maggie (7) - were all devastated by the death of a woman who had the greatest pride in her family and would be deeply missed.
He said, “Lynn was such a beautiful person. She had gained many friends through her school life at Dromore High and her time spent at Greenmount College, where she studied agriculture. Lynn was very involved in her young farmers’ club.
She had the honour of representing the YFCU on an exchange trip to the USA and won the all-Ireland Miss Macra competition, a huge achievement. In recent years she had become involved in Banbridge Rugby Club’s ladies committee where she had some wonderful friends and enjoyed the social side to the club.
“However, Lynn’s greatest pride and joy were her family. She had a very close relationship with her parents Jim and Marie and four sisters, Jillian, Tracey, Alex and Helen.
“Most of all Lynn was devoted to our family. Her love for her daughters Jane and Maggie and myself was so complete, words cannot describe it.
“She was such a proud mum, always putting myself and her daughters above her own needs. She exhibited qualities so rare that they are simply priceless. The devastating loss felt by all of us near to her is extremely difficult to bear.”
Everyone in the medical team gave unqualified apologies to the Lewises.
The surgeon Professor Neill McClure accepted there was a fundamental failure in relation to the planning of the operation in that he had failed to ensure that blood testing was undertaken, prior to admission, in order to assess haemoglobin and for the group to ascertain whether the patient was anaemic and the fibroid was sizeable.
He also stated that he was, at the time of the operation, aware of the risks of fluid absorption, and that such risks were well recognised and described in medical literature. Measures should have been taken to recognise the facts, but this was not done in the course of the operation.
The coroner stated Mrs Lewis was permitted to develop hyponatraemia which, in combination with the haemorrhage, caused her death.
Dr Hughes, the anaesthetist, said that he had, together with the surgeon and the team, responsibility for the overall safety of the patient.
He concluded that had he recognised developing hyponatraemia, this would have led to discussion with the surgeon, which would have led to the operation being abandoned, thereby avoiding Mrs Lewis’s death.
The nursing staff acknowledged their failure to communicate the fluid monitoring figures to the surgeon “and this was not in accordance with good practice”, which also contributed to the fatality.