The third and what is expected to be the final day of evidence into the death of Patrick Rowland from Lahardane who drowned after absconding from Mayo University Hospital (MUH) in the early hours of January 17, 2023 got underway this morning.

So great is the interest of family and other relatives in the proceedings that the Coroner for the District of Mayo, Pat O’Connor has indicated that space will be at a premium today in Swinford Courthouse.

He said that all are welcome to attend but has stressed that accommodation will be limited as 14 witnesses are scheduled to give evidence.

69-year-old Mr. Rowland absconded from MUH in his pyjamas and wearing slippers into sub-zero temperatures.

He phoned one of his sons, Cormac, to collect him but when Cormac arrived in Castlebar from his home in Parke, some miles away, there was no trace of his father and a major search operation which involved, gardai, civilians and a coastguard helicopter was mounted.

Earlier this week, the inquest established that Mr. Rowland, whose body was recovered from the Castlebar River some days later, drowned after falling 20 to 25 feet from a riverbank close to the Educate Together National School at Newtown, Castlebar.

Mr, Rowland was suffering from pneumonia and sepsis and was agitated and suffering from sleep deprivation after having been on a trolley in the hospital for 43 hours before being transferred to a ward.

Despite Mr Rowland expressing his wish to leave the hospital to a nurse, two security guards and a porter, this information was not passed on to  his care team on the ward in the handover from the emergency department, the inquest has heard.

Dr. Tom Lee, Consultant Geriatrician at MUH said he found Mr. Rowland “lucid and co-operative” when he met with him on the morning of January 16th, 2023.

Dr Lee agreed with Roger Murray S.C. (partner in Callan/Tansey Solicitors) that  sleep deprivation could have added to the deceased developing delirium coupled with infection.

However Dr. Lee said delirium was very unusual in a patient aged 69 and was more common in older patients.

He said he was shocked when he heard Mr. Rowland had disappeared from the hospital and offered his sincere condolences to his family.

Under questioning from Mr. Murray, Dr Padraig O’Luanaigh, Director of Nursing at MUH, said ward doors are normally locked and accessible via a swipe card but not at the time Mr. Rowland left the ward.

However, he said the doors could always be opened by pushing a button because they were specifically designed to keep people out not in.

He said to lock the wards from the inside would be depriving people of their liberty and people had the freedom to leave the ward if they wished.

The inquest heard evidence yesterday that Mr. Rowland left the hospital through a delivery entrance in the basement.




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