Inquest finds man ‘could have been saved’ by hospital

The family of an 80-year-old man have called on hospital chiefs to learn lessons after an inquest ruled his life could have been saved had staff acted earlier.

Coroner Nicola Mundy concluded failures in Vincent McKeown’s care at Doncaster Royal Infirmary amounted to neglect.

A hearing was told the father-of-two was discharged without appropriate treatment two days before his death after he sought help last April for symptoms from a strangulated hernia, including stomach pain and vomiting.

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In a narrative verdict, the coroner referred to a gross failure to provide basic care. The failures led to an inappropriate hospital discharge when emergency surgery should have been carried out.

His widow, Kathleen, 68, said: “Nothing can ever turn back the clock and bring Vincent back, but we just hope that medical staff will consider everything that happened and ensure that a similar situation cannot occur to others.

“It was horrifying to witness Vincent’s condition deteriorate so badly over those few days and to be with him just before he passed away. The past nine months without him have been truly horrendous and I would hate for anyone to have to go through what we have.”

Hayley Smith, a medical negligence solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, Sheffield, representing the family, said: “He had been in and out of hospital in the days leading up to his death and because he had been discharged they believed that medical staff were in control of his condition. The inquest has raised many issues which the family has found extremely concerning and was not made aware of previously. We will now seek to work with the NHS trust to provide further answers so that the family can begin to come to terms with how Vincent died.”

Mike Pinkerton, chief executive at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS trust, said: “We extend our sincerest sympathies and apologise for the loss suffered by Mr McKeown’s family.

“Following Mr McKeown’s death we began a full internal investigation and have already implemented changes. These include more in-depth checks for all patients on arrival to the surgical assessment unit, and extra training based on national guidelines for staff in our emergency department.”