OAP dies after Sunderland hospital blunder

Sunderland Royal Hospital

Sunderland Royal Hospital

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HEALTH bosses have apologised after an 80-year-old dad died when medics failed to spot an internal bleed.

John Matthew Lowden was admitted to Sunderland Royal Hospital on Christmas Eve where doctors thought he had a chest infection because he was short of breath, or a blood clot.

But a scan did not show the infection and he was given the blood- thinning medication warfarin.

Doctors ruled out internal bleeding because his blood count had been slowly decreasing since 2011 and he was sent home for Christmas. The dad-of two was readmitted on December 27 at 1.30pm but did not see a doctor until after 9.30pm.

The bleed - caused by a gastric intestinal ulcer - was eventually diagnosed and Mr Lowden, who had been undergoing radiotherapy treatment for prostrate cancer at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle, was given a blood transfusion but died the next day.

Dr Syed Alam, acute medical consultant at Sunderland Royal Hospital, told an inquest into his death chances to spot the bleed were missed and apologised to his family.

Steps have now been put in place so it would not happen again.

Mr Lowden’s son, Shaun, told the inquest his family had to live with the knowledge that he could have been saved.

“It seems to me that in the time my father spent in hospital there were flaws in every part of his care,” he told the hearing.

“Possibly the most concerning aspect for us as a family is that when we left my father in A&E, we said we would be in to see him later in the afternoon, and when we rang we were told he was on a ward being given oxygen, so decided not to return to hospital because of the situation.

“Now we have to live with the fact that if we had gone back we may have been able to push the departments into doing something for him.

“We have to live knowing that he died alone.”

Dr Alam said: “When he was admitted on the 24th his blood count was low. Prior to the 24th it was low and had been overlooked. I can’t explain that and I want to apologise for it.

“When he was admitted on the 27th there was a long delay before a doctor saw him, and a missed opportunity to see whether there was a bleed.

“If there hadn’t been, and the bleed had been spotted, he would have been seen quicker.”

Emergency medicine consultant David Bramley also admitted chances had been missed to spot the problem, and that the transfusion was given too late.

He said steps had been put in place since John’s death to avoid a similar incident.

Coroner Derek Winter said given what had happened, a short verdict was not possible.

In his verdict, he said: “On the balance of probabilities there were missed opportunities to render sufficient medical treatment to John Matthew Lowden, and had blood test results been considered, and a more timely blood transfusion done then in all likelihood he would not have died when he died.

“I am very sad about your loss and express my condolences.”