‘Opportunities Missed’ To Save Doncaster Man’s Life Two Days Before His Death

Specialist Medical Lawyers Call For Assurances That Lessons Will Be Learnt To Improve Patient Safety As Inquest Hears Man Visited Hospital 3 Times In 4 Days Before His Death


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The family of a man who died from an incarcerated hernia have called for lessons to be learnt after hearing evidence at an Inquest that the father-of-two and step-father could have been saved had doctors taken action two days earlier when he was in hospital and discharged without appropriate treatment.

Vincent McKeown from Doncaster, first sought treatment over the Bank Holiday weekend in April 2014 but he died aged 80 after visiting Doncaster Royal Infirmary three times in four days because of symptoms from a strangulated hernia including stomach pain and vomiting.

A Coroner at Doncaster Coroners Court today concluded that the failures in his care amounted to neglect and provided a narrative conclusion. In the narrative she referred to a gross failure to provide basic care on 23 April and that these failures led to an inappropriate discharge when an emergency hernia repair should have been undertaken. She added that had the operation been undertaken, it is likely Mr McKeown would have survived.

His widow, Kathleen, has instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help investigate as she has concerns about the level of care provided to her husband in the days leading up to his death.

Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has also carried out a Serious Incident Report and the inquest heard evidence described by lawyers at Irwin Mitchell as ‘deeply disturbing’, including:

  • x-rays carried out days before his death clearly showed an obstruction in his bowel but no action to resolve this was taken
  • the obstruction seen on x-ray was not reported to more senior staff who were led to believe his condition was less serious and recommended he was discharged
  • Vincent would not have died if he was treated appropriately two days prior to his death when he first visited A&E
  • His widow and daughter had to witness Vincent vomit a brown liquid as he died after trying to take him to have a CT scan of his stomach. His condition deteriorated before he could have this.

Hayley Smith, a specialist medical negligence solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, Sheffield representing the family, said:

Expert Opinion
The family were distraught when Vincent died. He had been in and out of hospital in the days leading up to his death and because he had been discharged they believed that medical staff were in control of his condition.

“The inquest has raised many issues which the family has found extremely concerning and was not made aware of previously. We will now seek to work with the NHS Trust to provide further answers so that the family can begin to come to terms with how Vincent died.

“Patient safety must be the number one priority for the NHS and we will now be seeking assurances that lessons have been learnt from the evidence heard today to improve care for others in the future.”
Hayley Smith, Solicitor

Kathleen, 68, from Doncaster, said: “Nothing can ever turn back the clock and bring Vincent back, but we just hope that medical staff will consider everything that happened and ensure that a similar situation cannot occur to others. It was horrifying to witness Vincent’s condition deteriorate so badly over those few days and to be with him just before he passed away.

“The past nine months without him have been truly horrendous and I would hate for anyone to have to go through what we have.”

Vincent first visited an out of hours clinic on bank holiday Sunday 20th April 2014 with a hernia. A nurse told him to speak to his GP if his condition worsened and the following day he spoke with the service again before visiting his GP on Tuesday 22nd April. The same day he was referred to hospital to have the hernia reduced before being discharged.

On 23rd April 2014 Vincent began to projectile vomit a brown liquid and was very unwell so an ambulance was called which took him to A&E at Doncaster Royal Infirmary. He underwent x-rays and blood tests, but despite x-ray notes saying there were signs ‘consistent with obstruction’ in his small bowel, he was diagnosed with a chest infection and discharged with antibiotics.

On 25th April, Vincent attended A&E again as he was having difficulties breathing. He was sent for a CT scan but on the way to the scan, he had to be taken back to resus because his condition deteriorated. He then began vomiting large amounts of brown fluid and sadly died following resuscitation attempts.

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