Hospital doctors at Royal London ‘fail to spot symptoms which could have saved man’s life’

Royal London Hospital

Royal London Hospital - Credit: Archant

Doctors failed to recognise symptoms of a rare complication from spinal injury which could have saved a man’s life after he fell off a ladder, an inquest in east London heard.

Edward Perry, 57, fractured his spine while trying to get a suitcase out of the loft at his home near Victoria Park, ready to go on holiday to Portugal.

The doctors at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel told his daughter that his injury was common and he would soon be dischargded—but Edward died within a week.

They failed to spot that his stomach had swollen through paralysis of the bowel, a rare complications of the spinal injury resulting from surrounding nerve damage, an inquest at Poplar Coroner’s Court heard.

Nurses had recorded the symptoms in their notes, but the doctors failed to follow up and eventually Edward suffered “catastrophic vomiting” and cardiac arrest, the hearing was told.

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A consultant anaesthetist drafted in after a year to lead the delayed investigation into his death in 2013 said it had been repeatedly noticed in the medical records that Mr Perry had a distended abdomen.

Doctors “could have intervened more aggressively to prevent what happened,” he told the inquest, but they continued a conservative approach.

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He was seen by junior doctors with a lack of experience, who “perhaps didn’t see the picture in the whole, perhaps because they didn’t review the notes”.

A narrative verdict recorded that Mr Perry, a 57-year-old stained-glass window craftsman, died of a rare complication of a spinal injury caused by a fall, which wasn’t recognised in time.

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