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Calls For Lessons To Be Learned After Hospital Anaesthetic Death

Hospital Fails To Follow Basic Procedure


A leading medical solicitor has called for lessons to be learned after a hospital’s failure to follow basic anaesthesia procedures led to the death of a 72 year old Birmingham man.

Anthony Beard, from Northfield, had been admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for a routine hernia operation on 28th March 2009 but, whilst under general anaesthetic, he aspirated the contents of his stomach into his lungs. He was transferred to the hospital’s Critical Care Unit but despite the best efforts of clinicians there, he died 17 days later on 14th April 2009.

An inquest held at Birmingham Coroner’s Court today returned a narrative verdict “that the deceased died as a consequence of aspiration of stomach contents”.

Victoria Blankstone, a medical negligence expert with Irwin Mitchell solicitors commented: “This tragic death was in our expert’s view totally avoidable. The anaesthetist who was responsible for Mr Beard’s care failed to follow a very basic anaesthesia procedure known as rapid sequence induction, which would have prevented this incident from happening.”

Mr Beard was first admitted to the QE on 24th March 2009 with severe abdominal pain. A scan revealed problems where Mr Beard had undergone hernia surgery some years previously; however surgery was not carried out for five days. During this time Mr Beard suffered symptoms of a painful, swollen abdomen and was sick on a number of occasions.

The anaesthetic team did not follow the correct procedure for carrying out a general anaesthetic where aspiration of stomach contents presents a serious risk to the unconscious patient, despite being aware of the risk.
Victoria continued: “During general anaesthesia a patient is not simply ‘asleep’ but is totally dependant upon life support.

“At this most vulnerable time in a patient’s hospital care, the anaesthetist really does hold the patient’s life in his or her hands and it is vital that proper procedures are followed.

“Sadly, medical evidence and the findings of today’s inquest show that Mr Beard, did not receive the basic level of care he was entitled to receive.

“Mr Beard’s family will be taking time to review today’s inquest findings before deciding on their next course of action which may include taking legal action against the Hospital Trust.

Tony’s brother, Mr Barrie Beard, who lives in Bromsgrove, commented: “It has been very difficult coping with Tony’s death.  He was always so lively and happy. When we went to see him in the Critical Care Unit it was like seeing a completely different person lying there.  This shouldn’t have happened and although it’s sadly too late for Tony we want to make sure that the hospital has learned lessons so that no-one else has to suffer as he did.”

Mr Beard, leaves behind his partner, Mary. The couple had been together for 40 years.

In addition to being a well respected local college lecturer, Mr Beard also undertook training for the disabled, the police force and prison services. He also worked for a local Magistrates Court dealing with planning issues and was a Liberal Democrat local council candidate for Newtown.

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of hospital negligence, we may be able to help you claim compensation. See our Medical Negligence Guide for more information.