A WIDOW who complained about a doctor’s attitude towards her hugged apologetic hospital staff at the end of an inquest.
Both a consultant and a junior doctor told a coroner they were sorry for the way Audrey Diamond was treated in Wrexham Maelor Hospital’s accident and emergency unit.
North Wales East and Central coroner John Gittins was told Mrs Diamond’s husband Ian, who had been coughing up blood, collapsed and died in a hospital café last September after being sent home by junior doctor Emily Thornber.
Mr Diamond had been seen in A&E where, Mrs Diamond said, Dr Thornber “looked at me as if to say ‘shut up, I am not talking to you’,’’ the inquest at Ruthin was told yesterday.
A GP had suspected from an X-ray that Mr Diamond, a 62-year-old courier, had lung cancer but this had not been confirmed at the time of his death. He died a few days before he was due to see a doctor at a chest clinic.
Mrs Diamond, 66, said on September 6 she received a phone call from husband who lived at Coed y Moch, Dolgellau. “I said ‘what is wrong?’ He said ‘just get an ambulance my love’.”
Mrs Diamond said the sink at their home was covered in blood. An ambulance arrived quickly. Mr Diamond explained he had stopped at traffic lights and coughed up blood.
“When he came in he was throwing up blood in the sink,” Mrs Diamond recalled.
“He must have been terrified. On the way to the hospital I was consoling him.”
Arriving at A&E, Mrs Diamond said they saw Dr Thorber who asked about the amount of blood lost.
Mrs Diamond told Mr Gittins: “I know the doctors are busy but people are human beings. She just looked at me with a look as if to say ‘shut up, I am not talking to you’.”
Mr Diamond was told he could go home. Mrs Diamond said: “I knew he was going to die, but he needed to die somewhere better than he did and this is what hurts so much.
“The NHS is fantastic but you have to take a minute to listen to people. She wouldn’t look at me and talk to me.
“I knew Ian shouldn’t have gone home.”
The couple went to a hospital café but Mr Diamond collapsed. His widow said: “I was screaming for a doctor.”
Mrs Diamond added that earlier, while her husband – “the kindest man you could ever wish to meet” – was sitting in a chair, there were people taking up hospital beds “sobering up”.
Mr Gittins, who concluded the death was due to natural causes, told her: “You do him credit in terms of both your dignity and bravery in difficult circumstances.”
Dr Thornber said she was sorry about how she handled taking the patient’s history before Mr Diamond was sent home.
There was not much else that could have been done in terms of medical care but she conceded she could have changed her “person to person management”.
Although the coughing-up of blood looked bad “it’s not normally something that would then kill you,” she said, adding she had spoken that day to a consultant.
Dr Thornber said she felt “horrible” when she learned of the tragedy. “Speaking to families is different for me now,” she said.
Consultant Aruni Sen said the cancer had touched a blood vessel. He discovered Mr Diamond had a crucial appointment at the chest clinic on the following Tuesday. He was “extremely” surprised at the speed of what happened to Mr Diamond.
Mr Sen said he delegated communication with the Diamonds. “It’s something I profusely regret,” he said.
Mr Diamond did not need to be admitted to hospital but the couple needed to understand what had happened and be given advice.
Mr Gittins said hospital staff did a difficult job in “extremely trying” circumstances.
“People have to be trained and go through processes of learning. Dr Thornber, I don’t doubt, will ultimately be a better doctor from this,” he added.