Mold pensioner, 81, died after feed tube was connected to drip

Reporter:

Geraint Jones

A PENSIONER died of toxic shock after his feeding tube was connected to his intravenous drip.

That was the finding of pathologist Dr Richard Shepherd into the death of Alan Walker, 81, of Leeswood, near Mold, at Wrexham Maelor Hospital on January 23 last year .

An inquest in Ruthin heard yesterday that Mr Walker was admitted to Wrexham Maelor Hospital on January 5 after collapsing at his home.

His condition gradually improved, but relatives were called to the hospital late the previous evening after Mr Walker suffered a cardiac arrest.

Olive Warren, Mr Walker’s granddaughter, said Dr Peter Drew told her “something drastically wrong” had happened and that he was “going to get to the bottom of it”.

A second granddaughter, Sarah Hallam, said Dr Drew told her that some food had got into Mr Walker’s drip.

It was serious, he had not seen it happen before and he was not sure how it would be treated, she said.

Dr Drew and a senior doctor told her that it was a horrific incident, where the food had caused clots and Mr Walker would either recover or die in the next 24 hours.

When Miss Hallam asked a hospital staff member whether this was down to medical negligence, they replied either “sadly yes” or “unfortunately yes”.

The police were later called, the inquest heard.

Mr Walker suffered another cardiac arrest at 1am on January 23 and died at 10.40am.

Coroner John Gittins heard that Mr Walker had been in good spirits when relatives visited him earlier on the evening of January 22.

The inquest heard that he was due to be transferred to Mold Community Hospital in a few days.

Staff nurse Carol Hughes said that she installed the intravenous line to treat Mr Walker with phosphate at about 6.40pm on January 22.

She had disconnected the line from Mr Walker’s hand to remove a watch as he had complained of soreness, and then put it back.

There were no problems with the feeding tube and everything was connected properly when she finished her shift that night, the inquest was told. The inquest heard how Mr Walker, who had had an operation for a tumour on his jaw, had been a fit and active man until his collapse on January 5.

Dr Shepherd understood that on the day of Mr Walker’s death, staff nurse Jamie Keates had discovered him collapsed and that the feeding system was connected to the intravenous line.

Although no food had been found in Mr Walker’s blood or organs, he said that it “seemed likely” that at least some of the food had entered either before or at the time of his collapse. The cause of death was cited as toxic shock due to intravenous infusion of a liquid oral supplemental feed.

Contributing factors were severe coronary artery disease, a blood disorder called polycythaemia rubra vera and cancer of the mouth.

The inquest continues today.

See full story in the Leader

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