Sunderland man paralysed in a car crash died two years later after health deteriorated

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AN accident which left a driver without the use of his legs led to his death two years later, an inquest heard.

Keith Johnston, from Sunderland, spent months in hospital following the car crash in Cumbria in 2012.

The devastating crash, which happened 10 miles from Carlisle on the A596, severed Keith’s spinal cord and left him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

The father-of-three was left paralysed from the chest down and eventually discharged to a care home in Penshaw.

However, when he opted to move back to his home in Sunderland, his health started to deteriorate.

Mr Johnston, from Red House, died at Sunderland Royal Hospital last month.

An inquest into his death at Sunderland’s Coroner’s Court heard that the 43-year-old regularly discharged himself from hospital three times a day, disappearing for up to eight hours so he could smoke up to 60 cigarettes.

He was first treated at a specialist spinal unit in Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital but he fell out with staff and began attending appointments at Sunderland Royal.

In a statement read out to the inquest, consultant vascular surgeon Paul Dunlop said Mr Johnston was diagnosed with type two diabetes in 2009.

He was first seen at Sunderland Royal in January 2013, but refused to listen to doctors’ advice about his treatment – including having a feeding tube fitted to improve his diet and using nicotine patches – which led to extensive pressure sores and both his lower legs being amputated.

In late 2013, doctors decided Mr Johnston was dying and began palliative care.

Mr Dunlop said: “He was not willing to accept this and said he wanted to go home. He said he was going to get better.

“He was frequently off the ward for up to eight hours at a time.

“He was adamant that he was going home before Christmas, regardless of his condition.”

Mr Johnston, a former soldier with the Durham Light Infantry, did go back to his home in Rochdale Road, but was regularly re-admitted to hospital over the next few months, discharging himself more than 40 times and once suffering a heart attack while he was waiting to leave the ward.

He eventually died at the hospital on June 5 from a combination of pneumonia, diabetes and vascular disease.

Assistant coroner Karin Welsh said Mr Johnston was affected by the “catastrophic” car crash, which followed a pals’ fishing trip to Cumbria’s west coast.

“He was not cooperative in his treatment and management plan, despite the best efforts of the hospital.

“It seems to me that the road traffic accident in February 2012 was a catastrophic event in his life and it seems to me, on balance, that if it had not been for that accident, he would not have died when he did.”

l Conclusion: Accidental death