Lawyers Urge Rotherham Hospital To Learn Lessons After Bowel Blockage Causes Patients Death

Inquest Hears How Doctors Carried Out Failed Operation After Basing Decisions On Tests Taken Seven And A Half Months Before Surgery

15.07.2011

Lawyers representing the family of a Rotherham man who died following cancer surgery are calling for the NHS to learn from its mistakes – after it emerged that doctors carried out surgery on the victim’s bowel without performing potentially vital new tests.

David Allen, from Maltby, died aged 62 on 5 August 2010, just six weeks after undergoing surgery to reverse a colostomy at Rotherham District General.

Mr Allen had the Colostomy in place following surgery for rectal cancer in April 2009.  A plan was put in place to reverse this with further surgery after he had undergone chemotherapy and radiotherapy but when the time came the hospital failed to perform up to date tests to ensure Mr Allen’s bowels were functioning properly.

Doctors at Rotherham District General instead relied on a Gastrografin test taken seven and a half months previously, even though a fresh test may have shown he was not suitable for surgery.

The family’s solicitors, medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell, are now urging the NHS to learn from this case to ensure a similar situation cannot happen again.

At an inquest into Mr Allen’s death at Rotherham Coroner’s Court Coroner Nicola Mundy recorded a Verdict of ‘Misadventure’

Ian Murray, a solicitor in the medical law team at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Sadly the surgery to reverse Mr Allen’s colostomy was unsuccessful given the blockage in his bowel.

“The Gastrografin test taken in November 2009 showed that Mr Allen’s bowels appeared to be functioning properly, but this was taken seven and a half months before his death and while he was undergoing chemotherapy, during which time the blockage developed

“If doctors had performed an up to date test on Mr Allen they may well have seen a very different picture, and this could have been crucial in preventing Mr Allen’s death. It is vital that lessons are learnt from this mistake to prevent other patients from suffering in the future.”

Coroner Nicola Mundy also heard evidence that Mr Allen was discharged from Rotherham District General three days after the operation, even though he was vomiting and unable to eat properly.

At home Mr Allen continued to suffer from these symptoms, and was eventually rushed back to the hospital by ambulance when his stomach began to swell, five days after he was discharged.

A CT scan revealed he was suffering from the blockage to his bowel, and after further surgery he was transferred to the hospital’s intensive care unit. His condition deteriorated until he died six weeks later, on 5 August 2010.

Mr Allen’s widow, Eileen, said: “Our whole family has been devastated by David’s death. It is heartbreaking to think he might have survived if doctors had performed a new test before surgery.

“Doctors should never take chances with the lives of their patients, and David should have undergone tests to check he was ready for the colostomy to be reversed.

“Nothing can be done to bring him back to us but we hope that by highlighting this case lessons will be learnt. Nobody else should have to go through what David and our family have had to.”

Notes to Editors

PLEASE NOTE: THE FAMILY HAVE ASKED THAT ALL MEDIA ENQUIRIES COME THROUGH THE IRWIN MITCHELL PRESS OFFICE