Teen-death coroner to write to health minister on antibiotics

James McMaster died on May 16, 2012, just three days after his 19th birthday

James McMaster died on May 16, 2012, just three days after his 19th birthday

A coroner investigating the death of a Portadown teenager in Craigavon Hospital four years ago is set to deliver his findings today.

James McMaster, a talented young rugby player, died on May 16, 2012, just three days after his 19th birthday.

The civil engineering student had been in hospital for five weeks, initially in the surgical and medical wards, before his condition deteriorated rapidly and he was transferred to intensive care.

A three-day inquest began at Craigavon Courthouse on Monday, but coroner Patrick McGurgan said he would not deliver his full findings until he had taken time to consider the “enormity of medical evidence” on a “very complex matter”.

However, he did say that he intended writing to the health minister to raise awareness of the use of antibiotics with a view to introducing an educational learning tool.

The inquest heard that an adverse reaction to antibiotics was a likely cause of James’s death.

Mr McGurgan said: “It would mean that the consultants treating patients like James are asking questions of the right people. I think if this happens the family of James may feel there is something positive that has come out of this inquest.”

Mr McGurgan made the comments after evidence from Dr Sara Hedderwick, a consultant in infectious diseases at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

James’s parents Jim and Grace said the inquest had been very difficult and while they were still awaiting the coroner’s full findings, they hoped “lessons will be learned”.