Inquest told how woman choked to death on nursing unit

An inquest has heard how an elderly woman died after her head became trapped in a cot side in her hospital bed.

Sile Coyle, 85, of Ardsmore, Gortahork, died on her first night at Falcarragh Community Nursing Unit in August 2008.

Mrs Coyle, who family said was in good health, had gone into the hospital for a rest for a number of days.

Nurse Carmel O'Rourke, who had worked at the hospital since 1999, told Letterkenny Coroner’s Court that on August 14th, 2008, herself and another nurse were looking after 25 patients.

Another patient had died at 3.10am but nurse O’Rourke said that they continued to check on all patients.

The last time she checked on Sile Coyle was between 6.30am and 6.45am and that she seemed well and was lying on her back with two pillows on either side of her.

However when she went back in to check on Mrs Coyle at around 7.40am she noticed her head was stuck between the cot side and the bed’s head.

She tried to lift her up but could not and called for help from colleague Mary Boyle.

The Director of Nursing at Falcarragh Community Nursing Unit, Geraldine McClean, revealed a Serious Incident Review Team had been set up to examine ways of improving safety of cot sides.

All staff in Co Donegal are now trained in the use of cot sides and all cots are fitted with warning stickers while a similar programme is being rolled out across the country.