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Clinic probe into death of woman at Ulster Independent Clinic during operation

A private hospital is carrying out an internal investigation after a woman died unexpectedly while undergoing surgery at its facility, a court has heard.

Mother-of-two Lynn Lewis (38) died at the Ulster Independent Clinic in south Belfast during a routine procedure in July last year.

A second preliminary hearing into the death was held at the Coroner’s Court in Belfast yesterday during which Mary O’Rourke QC told the court that the clinic’s panel of inquiry “doesn’t seem to be the way forward” when an open inquest is being held.

Ms O’Rourke, who represents a doctor involved in the case, said the inquest would provide a “proper forum” with “complete disclosure” whereas an internal investigation would be “doing its own thing”. Coroner John Leckey also said he would be writing to the clinic to ascertain whether they would be providing any legal representation for the inquest.

Yesterday he said there had been “no suggestion” so far that the clinic would. Mr Leckey, along with legal representatives for both the family of Mrs Lewis and individual medical staff, said they would be seeking their own expert opinions regarding the death.

At a previous preliminary hearing held last month, Professor Jack Crane told the court that Mrs Lewis may have suffered hyponatraemia — a condition which causes death when where there is too much fluid in the body, causing sodium levels to drop and the brain to swell.

Northern Ireland’s State Pathologist carried out the post-mortem on Mrs Lewis, from Markethill Road in Portadown, following her sudden and unexpected death at the private hospital. Mrs Lewis died during surgery to remove fibroids from her uterus.

Giving evidence at court he said “there was evidence there was significant haemorrhage”.

However, Professor Crane told the court he did not believe bleeding was the sole factor in Mrs Lewis’ sudden death.

He said that the sodium levels in Mrs Lewis' blood during post-mortem “suggests she had some element of hyponatraemia”.

A date has not yet been set for the start of the full inquest.

Belfast Telegraph