Coroner rules ‘no neglect’ after St Helier Hospital blood test blunder
An elderly man had his condition wrongly diagnosed and was discharged from hospital hours before he died of organ failure.
An inquest heard errors by hospital staff saw Edward Wood, 82, sent back to Shirley View Nursing Home in Cheam from St Helier A&E, before routine blood tests had been analysed that would have seen him admitted for urgent treatment.
He had been admitted to St Helier seven hours before with abdominal pain and vomiting.
The A&E doctor who saw him, on January 30 last year, Dr Lenn Thirion, diagnosed he had gastric erosion caused by aspirin he had been taking.
But the dementia sufferer was allowed to leave the hospital before blood tests came back, which would have led to a more serious diagnosis.
Dr Thirion had also been unable to see some information on his symptoms provided to him by the out-of-hours Croydoc GP, who referred him to the hospital, because the notes were illegible.
An inquest into Mr Wood’s death at Croydon Coroner’s Court on Tuesday heard Dr Thirion had ordered transport for Mr Wood to leave hospital thinking it would not arrive until he had viewed the blood test results.
But it arrived quickly, and Mr Woods left to go back to the nursing home with just a prescription, and without any letter or phone call from staff at the hospital explaining his diagnosis.
Dr Thirion said Mr Wood would have been admitted to a ward immediately if his tests had been checked before he left.
Once the doctor had received the blood results the care home was called asking for Mr Woods to return.
But he collapsed as ambulance staff arrived at the home at 8.15am on January 31, and died soon after.
His son, Bob Wood told the court: “I have a massive appreciation for the pressure A&Es are under... but a number of problems have all contributed to an old dementia patient being sent home to die in pain and it’s appalling.”
Coroner Roy Palmer questioned some of what had happened during Mr Wood’s treatment and recommended some changes to procedures, but did not say the issues amounted to neglect.
He concluded Mr Wood’s death would probably not have been avoided if he had received the correct treatment.
He ruled Mr Woods died of natural causes, as a result of a strangulated bowel, with Alzheimer’s as a contributory factor.