Pensioner died after falling from bed in Sunderland hospital

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A SERIOUSLY ill pensioner died after a fall in hospital left him with massive head injuries.

Ernest Vaux Trewhitt Potts was found lying near his bed on ward E53 of Sunderland Royal Hospital.

The 74-year-old suffered a fractured skull and died on New Year’s Eve last year.

An inquest into his death heard Mr Potts was admitted to the hospital on Christmas Day.

He was battling heart failure, the effects of a stroke, had plaques on his lungs, diabetes and had difficulty moving about.

The pensioner, who lived in Nookside, also suffered skin problems and his lower legs were heavily bandaged.

Healthcare assistant Ann Cole described hearing a loud thud and another patient in the six-bed bay sounding a buzzer to say Mr Potts needed help.

“We found him flat on his back and unresponsive,” she told Sunderland Coroner’s Court.

Dr Rahul Nayar said Mr Pott’s condition deteriorated the weekend before his fatal fall.

He believed he might have been suffering from hypoxia – a lack of oxygen in the body.

“Low levels of oxygen in the blood can leave a patient disorientated,” he said.

“I think his judgement might have been off and he might have attempted to stand.”

He never regained consciousness and died at the hospital.

Dr Nayar added: “Because of the severity of the bleeding and very taxing conditions, it was felt the most appropriate decision was not to have any further intervention in the form if surgery.

“The decision was taken that Mr Potts should be given appropriate nursing care and allowed to pass away with dignity.”

Ward manager Marie Stubbs said she had never seen Mr Potts, who slept in a chair, walking unaided and it usually took two nurses to help move him. Pathologist Dr Nigel Cooper told the hearing in Sunderland said Mr Pott’s brain was “severely and irreparably damaged” by the fall.

“I have no doubt it was the cause of death.”

He added: “Bleeding inside the brain can be a form of disease, but it is the kind consistent with the other injuries.”

Coroner Derek Winter recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He told hospital staff they should have spoken to patients on Mr Potts’s ward to find out what happened.

“I accept that falls are some times inevitable, even in the hospital environment, despite the best efforts of clinicians and nursing staff, but patients on the ward could have been asked what they had seen.

“That was evidence that could have been admitted as hearsay.”

He added: “It may be that we can all help other families to find out what had happened.”

Verdict: accident