Mystery over patient's death at Co Antrim nursing home

Mystery surrounds how a man found unresponsive in a nursing home bed came to have marks on his neck, a coroner's court has heard.

Monday, 12th September 2016, 3:43 pm
Updated Monday, 12th September 2016, 6:06 pm

Seamus McCollum, 56, who suffered cerebral palsy, was discovered at Maine Nursing Home in Randalstown, Co Antrim on September 12, 2011.

Coroner Joe McCrisken told a preliminary hearing at Belfast’s Laganside House: “I am going to do everything I can to get as many answers as possible.

“That’s why I have decided to focus the inquest down to the marks and what potentially caused them.”

Three days have been set aside for a full inquest later this month.

The coroner added: “We do not know what caused Mr McCollum’s death and that is the whole purpose of holding an inquest.”

The court heard there was a difference of opinion among experts over potential causes of the marks, which were consistent with compression of the neck.

While some believe they could be attributed to an epileptic event, the combination of drugs Mr McCollum had been prescribed or the impact of emergency medical treatment provided by carers and paramedics on the scene, one expert has noted in a report that the possibility of strangulation could not be excluded, the court was told.

However, Mr McCrisken said: “There is no evidence to support that death was trauma related and there is no additional evidence that Mr McCollum was assaulted.

“The post-mortem was inconclusive.”

Meanwhile, the coroner also ruled that inspection reports from the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) were not relevant to the scope of the forthcoming inquest.

He said: “The RQIA reports really do not cause me any concern. I appreciate that the family may have their own concerns. But, I have gone through that material in detail. I also have all the notes, records and accident books.”

The inquest is to be heard without a jury on September 19.