An Inquest opened in Swinford Co. Mayo on 22nd February 2022 into the death of John Carolan at Mayo University Hospital. Mr. Pat O’Conor, Coroner, adjourned his verdict to allow him time to consider the evidence of the inquest. On 21st March 2022 he returned a verdict that the deceased died of natural causes with Covid 19 infection. The Coroner recommended that a national expert panel be appointed to review the State’s response to the Covid pandemic.

Mr. Carolan was a 79 year old gentleman who presented at the Emergency Department of Mayo University Hospital on the 18th March 2020. He was admitted to the acute stroke unit in the Elderly Care Medical Ward under the care of Professor Tom O’Malley.

During his stay in the hospital, Mr Carolan failed to respond to treatment and his condition deteriorated. He was tested for Covid-19 on the 31st March, the day before he died. The test subsequently came back positive for Covid-19 on the 3rd April and it was revealed that a patient with Covid-19 was placed in his ward before his death. Mr Carolan was not tested for Covid-19 on his admission to hospital and it is his family’s belief he contracted the virus following his admission.

Mr. Carolan’s family had a number of unanswered questions following their father’s death which included why he was not tested for Covid-19 earlier and why a patient with Covid-19 was placed in a ward with vulnerable people.

The Inquest enquired into the policy and procedures in place at the time for the administration and care of both Covid, non-Covid and suspected Covid patients. It examined the cause of Mr. Carolan’s death in the context of those procedures.

Mr Carolan’s family was represented by David O’Malley of Callan Tansey Solicitors. Speaking after the verdict the family “welcomed the recommendation that a National expert panel should be set up to review how the Covid 19 pandemic was handled.” They further stated that “it is very saddening that there was mixing of Covid and non-Covid patients in wards and that there was a mixing of staff throughout wards. We hope that this does not happen again to any other individual”


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