University Hospital Galway has apologised in the High Court to the widow and family of a 43-year-old man who died from complications following surgery to remove cancer on his lung.
Speaking outside of court following the settlement, the widow of Shane Banks, a father of three young children who died three days after a second operation to remove his lung, said time will tell how much the apology means.
Ciara McDermott and Mr Banks’s extended family called for a new law to be introduced making it mandatory for hospitals to disclose if a treating doctor is under supervision or being mentored.
She said the family at the inquest into the lecturer’s death had found “that we had no idea what had been going on”.
An inquest into his death that ran for 15 days returned a verdict of medical misadventure. The inquest heard the cardiothoracic surgeon involved was under mentorship and supervision for his cardiac practice at the time, but not for thoracic work and lung procedures.
The coroner made a number of recommendations including that a mentorship programme be established for doctors and that standard operating procedures for all cancer multidisciplinary teams be communicated to all hospitals.
“The loss is huge,” Ms McDermott said outside the Four Courts. “Huge is not a big enough word. He was the love of my life. He was my husband; he was probably the best definition of a father I could have ever imagined he loved our three children. They were only two, three and four years old when he died.”
Mr Banks, a lecturer in business at Sligo Institute of Technology, died following the performance of a second operation for treatable lung cancer. He underwent two operations: the second on June 21st, 2019. During the course of the second surgery, major complications arose. There was significant blood loss and Mr Banks had to be put on bypass. His condition deteriorated and he died three days later.
The apology was read to the High Court as his wife and family settled actions against the Health Service Executive over his death. The terms of the settlements are confidential.
In the letter of apology, University Hospital Galway and the Saolta Group apologised to Mr Bank’s wife and their extended family and acknowledged the father’s “untimely death” and the “enormity of the personal loss to you of your beloved Shane”.
The letter from hospital general manager Chris Kane said: “I sincerely and unreservedly apologise for the failure to consider the introduction of proper supports for the thoracic surgery in Shane’s case and the deficits in the manner in which Shane’s surgery was carried out.”
It added: “If these had been in place and addressed, his death three days later would likely have been avoided. I acknowledge and regret the great upset, distress and loss suffered as a result.’
Mr Banks could not get rid of a chest infection and had been coughing up blood and was admitted to the Galway hospital for surgery.
The lobectomy was performed involving the removal of two lobes from his right lung. Mr Banks was in intensive care for three days and treated for pneumonia. However, the tumour was found to be “significantly invasive” and a second procedure was planned for June 21st.
During this procedure, the inquest heard the right main pulmonary artery was torn, and blood loss of 2.2 litres was recorded.
Two surgeons were called to assist and after the bleeding was stopped, Mr Banks’s right lung was removed. He was brought to intensive care and temporarily put on a ventilator.
In the early hours of June 24th, his condition was seen to deteriorate and he was given emergency treatment before being pronounced dead.
The cause of death was given as acute respiratory failure due to pulmonary oedema and damage in the remaining left lung, following the removal of the right lung three days earlier.