Tragedy as newly-diagnosed diabetic died on 21st birthday shopping trip to New York

A newly diagnosed diabetic died on holiday in New York after his GP did not take simple steps to assess his illness, an inquest has heard.

Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 6:18 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd January 2019, 6:28 pm
Shaun Dobinson, who died while on a holiday to New York City in 2016.

Shaun Dobinson, of Porthcawl Road, Washington, had gone to the States on a 21st birthday shopping trip with his pal.

But just two days after he started his dream holiday he began to fall ill, and six days later, on June 3 2016, he died in a hospital in the city.

Dr Nandu Batt, the GP of Shaun Dobinson, pictured outside Sunderland Coroner's Court.

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His inquest heard his GP, Dr Nandu Batt, of Victoria Road Health Centre in Shaun’s hometown, had previoulsy prescribed the drug Metformin, to lower blood glucose levels, when a test in late April found a high reading, confirming he had a form of diabetes.

The former engineer had suspected he had the condition as he was experiencing an ongoing thirst and a frequent need to go to the toilet, with his mother Julie and grandmother were already both being treated for Type 2 diabetes.

A post mortem examination found he died due to diabetic ketoacidosis, which occurs when the body starts to run out of insulin and harmful substances called ketone build up.

It also confirmed he had suffered two cardiac arrests, which had caused swelling of the brain, and he had developed a chest infection.

Julie Dobinson and husband Fred Dobinson as they attended the first day of Shaun's inquest.

His inquest at Sunderland Coroner’s Court, heard from his sister Kirsty who had attended a GP appointment with Shaun on May 13.

She said Dr Batt “didn’t really respond” when Shaun told him about his forthcoming trip and that he had not been given any information about what the condition meant or its dangers.

She also said the urgency of a referral to a clinic to investigate his condition further was not made clear, with an appointment made for June 23 after Shaun was unable to make two others due to his holiday.

Kirsty said Shaun, who had plans to join up to the RAF, had been “very excited” about his trip and would tell everyone he met he was going.

On being told he was diabetic, she said: “He was shocked.

“That will be one of my last memories of him being alive.”

Dr Batt, who was at that time the surgery’s only full-time GP and would see 30 patients a day, said he told Shaun to go to A&E or return if he felt ill - a point challenged by his sister.

He also said he would have told Shaun to postpone his trip until his treatment was stable or seek an immediate appointment with the clinic if he had known of his holiday.

Recalling the moment he said he was told of Shaun’s death by a member of staff, Dr Batt said: “I was shocked. I said I didn’t know he was in New York.

“I said ‘was he seen by the diabetes clinic’ and she said no.

“At that time the appointment was in June and I said he should have told me.”

He added a six-week wait “could not be accepted” in such a case.

He was also questioned about why he did not carry out a urine test to see if Shaun had ketones in his system and said he now realised that meant he fell below the standard expected of him.

He told the hearing: “I realise now it was a mistake.

“It was important but somehow it slipped my mind at the time.”

The hearing also heard from an expert that if Shaun did have Type 1 diabetes, as suspected for someone of his age and in general good health, he should have also been started on a form of insulin.

The inquest, which is set to last three days, continues.