A STROKE which left a man disabled might have been prevented had he been properly assessed by a doctor in a hospital corridor considered “overcrowded and unsafe”.

Upholding a complaint from the man’s wife, who is herself a former doctor, the Public Services Ombudsman asked the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to explain what steps it had since taken to improve the safe management of patients in the emergency department at Glan Clwyd Hospital at peak times.

The Board has apologised to the couple, identified only as Mr and Mrs N, for their failings.

Mr N was admitted to the emergency department (ED) on January 11, 2019, with double vision and dizziness, and was unable to move both eyes in the same direction.

Paramedics gave a pre-alert to the hospital’s stroke team, but the problems resolved themselves within 20 minutes.

An ED doctor who found that his blood pressure was high arranged a CT scan which showed no inter-cranial bleeding nor any evidence of an acute stroke, so Mr N was discharged at 1.20am on the 12th.

Two days later, however, he had weakness in his left arm and leg, and was taken to hospital where it was confirmed he had suffered a stroke.

Mrs N told the Ombudsman that the scene in ED on his first visit was ”chaotic”, with patients waiting in ambulances, in chairs and trolleys, and that her husband had to wait several hours before seeing the ED doctor.

She described the scene as “overcrowded and unsafe”.

She said she accepted the doctor’s concern about her husband’s hypertension but felt that the indications were more likely that he had suffered a transient ischaemic attack (TIA).

An independent expert engaged by the Ombudsman agreed that a TIA was the most likely diagnosis and Mr N should have been given aspirin, which, if given within 48 hours, is known to reduce the chances of a subsequent stroke by 50 per cent.

The Health Board, in response, agreed with the diagnosis but accepted that it might have been reasonable to have considered admitting Mr N for further monitoring.

The Board also shared Mrs N’s concerns about the safety of the Emergency Department when overcrowded, as it often was around the New Year period, and apologised to Mr and Mrs N for failing to move patients out of the ED for safe working conditions.

Among his recommendations, the Ombudsman said the ED doctor, who was experienced, should consider any learning points at his next appraisal.

ED staff have also been asked to consider Mr N’s case as a means of raising awareness of identifying TIAs.

The Health Board has agreed to implement all the recommendations.