HOSPITAL procedures were changed after a disabled man was left with brain damage, an inquest heard.
Michael Kershaw, 20, was born with the rare degenerative neurological condition Perlizaeus-Merzbacher Leukodrystrophies (PMD) which affects one in 700,000 people.
He died in July last year, at his foster mother’s home in Washington.
Already severely disabled, Mr Kershaw suffered brain damage after he was found unconscious in his hospital bed, following a hip operation at Sunderland Royal Hospital in 2006.
Les Boobis, who was medical director of the hospital trust at the time, told the hearing that there had been an extensive investigation following the incident in February 2006.
Mr Kershaw is believed to have suffered respiratory arrest after being laid on his front to ease pressure points.
It was never established what caused the attack, said Mr Boobis, but it is thought some fluid might have gone into Mr Kershaw’s lungs.
Mr Boobis said: “Obviously it was a distressing incident for everybody involved.
“I would like to take the opportunity on the behalf of the nursing staff, who were devastated by what happened, I’m sure they would share our real concerns, and share their condolences with the family.” Following the review, procedures at the hospital for managing the needs of children with complex conditions were changed, including using oxygen monitoring programmes.
Consultant neuropathologist Dr Tuomo Polvikoski said it was difficult to say how long Mr Kershaw would have lived if he had not suffered the respiratory attack in 2006, but it was “surprising” he survived as long as he did.
He said: “It was something unexpected, but due to the fact that he had a severe neurological problem that prevented him maintaining a safe airway.
“The nurses were very aware of his needs and this is something that was completely out of the blue and unexpected.
“As a result of what happened, safeguards have been out in place to make sure it does not happen again.”
Dr Polvikoski gave the cause of death as cardiac arrest due to PMD.
Verdict: natural causes.