Eight days after Orla died notification of presence of swine flu virus had still not been made

ON the morning of Wednesday, October 14, 2009 (the day of Orla O’Kane’s funeral) the O’Kane family requested that their 24-year-old son, who was running a fever was seen by a GP.

The Department of Health report in to Orla’s death states: “He was seen by a GP later that morning. Swabs for H1N1 swine flu were taken and he was prescribed antivirals. He was informed that there was a strong clinical suspicion of H1N1 swine flu and advised not to attend Orla’s funeral that day.

“Also on Wednesday, October 14, the Coroners’ Service contacted the GP asking if the swab result was available as the proforma was still outstanding. It was decided to fax the form 14 proforma through and the GP would contact the Coroners’ Service when the H1N1 swine flu result was available.

“Later that evening (Wednesday, October 14) the Regional Virology Lab (RVL) emailed the complete list of all positive H1N1 swine flu test results to infection control staff and microbiologists.

“The following morning (Thursday, October 15) the Infection Control Nurse leading on H1N1 swine flu checked the email from the RVL. The nurse later then called Orla’s GP and advised that she had been told that the test had been positive for H1N1 swine flu. The GP left a message with the Public Health Agency saying that it looked like Orla had tested positive for H1N1 swine flu and expressed concern that he had not received the swab result directly from the RVL.

“The GP then contacted the Coroners’ office and left a message that he had received information verbally that the result was positive for H1N1 swine flu, but he would await actual receipt of the result in writing before confirming this. A consultant from Altnagelvin A&E spoke to RVL and learned that the swab was positive for H1N1 swine flu. The consultant spoke again to the PHA who by this time were already aware that the H1N1 swine flu test was positive and asked for advice regarding Trust A&E staff who had possible exposure during the resuscitation attempts. The PHA advised that staff involved should remain vigilant for symptoms of H1N1 swine flu having been informed by the Infection Control Nurse.

“On Friday October 16, the Western Education and Library Board contacted the PHA to advise that the school (Foyle View) was planning to issue a letter to inform other parents of Orla’s death and that another pupil had tested positive for H1N1 swine flu. The PHA agreed that it was appropriate to issue the letter. The Coroners’ Service attempted to contact the GP to confirm information about the positive H1N1 swine flu test and left a message to request the GP to ring back on Monday, 19 October. The Coroners’ Service requested the registrar to defer registration until the H1N1 swine flu result was available.

“Later on Friday, October 16, Orla’s mother contacted the GP in distress having heard that the H1N1 swine flu test was positive. Following a request made to the Trust to contact the family, the nurse team leader from the trust contacted them. The family requested that further contact be deferred until Monday, 19 October. A Community Paediatric nurse contacted the GP to advise that the family had been contacted and informed of the result.”

“On Monday, 19 October (eight days after the death of Orla O’Kane) , the GP was contacted by the Coroners’ Service and was asked to speak to the family to see if they wished to have H1N1 swine flu added as a contributory cause of death. The GP agreed and noted that he had still not officially received notification of the positive H1N1 swine flu result.”

This reveals that on the day of Orla O’Kane’s burial medics informed the family that her older brother was likely to have contracted swine flu. It was later confirmed that he had contracted the H1N1 virus.

A further five days after her burial the family GP had still not received official notification that a contributory factor in her death was the H1N1 virus. This was eight days in total since Orla’s death and eleven days after she had first taken ill.