THE family of a man who died in the Royal Victoria Hospital following a road accident believe his medical notes contain false entries, an inquest has heard.
Laurence Bradley, from Gortinure Road, Maghera, was admitted to the Mid-Ulster Hospital with a broken arm and other injuries on June 2, 2006, following a road traffic collision, but within days had been transferred to Belfast.
Due to his underlying chest condition and increasingly difficult breathing, 64-year-old Mr Bradley was admitted straight to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Royal.
He was later transferred to the orthopaedic (fracture) ward where his condition deteriorated.
Despite appeals from his family for him to be returned to the ICU, Mr Bradley remained on the ward until he died of a cardiac arrest on the morning of June 13.
On the second day of the hearing in Belfast, coroner John Leckey heard from Geraldine Bradley, Mr Bradley’s widow, and their daughter Maria Whitman, that family members remained with Mr Bradley “day and night” in the days prior to June 13.
Giving evidence, Mrs Bradley strongly disputed the medical notes which record Mr Bradley as having been washed and shaved, and being well enough to have been out of bed in a chair for up to four hours, the day before he died.
“He was never on his own and certainly wasn’t out of bed,” Mrs Bradley said.
Mrs Whitman, who is a qualified occupational therapist, also gave evidence that she feared for her father’s life while he remained on the orthopaedic ward. “I was continually reassured that my father’s condition was improving,” she said.
And she added: “I requested that my father be moved from ward four C. I could tell that a cardiac arrest was imminent as his body could not continue (with the laboured breathing).”
The most senior doctor on Mr Bradley’s ward was Dr Kirsty Kirk. Questioned by the coroner on the level of care afforded to Mr Bradley, Dr Kirk was asked if the service being provided was “consultant-led care” as he understood it to be.
In response, Dr Kirk said: “I can’t answer that.”
Mr Leckey highlighted that Mr Bradley was not seen by a consultant again after his admission on June 4.
He said: “This is a very disturbing state of affairs – if a doctor on the ward can’t tell me if this is consultant-led care.”
Around two hours before his death, a hospital note shows Mr Bradley to have had a critically low blood pressure reading of 64 over 50 that was not acted upon.
Mr Leckey said he would have thought that, for even the most junior doctor, “alarm bells should have been ringing”.
The coroner added: “What happened to Mr Bradley is a cause of great concern.”
Dr Kirk said she accepted “that is a medical emergency and I was alarmed (at the revelation)”.
A barrister for the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust told the coroner that new procedures put in place since Mr Bradley’s death had improved patient monitoring.
The hearing was adjourned until next month when the consultant in charge of the orthopaedic ward, Richard Nicholas, is expected to give evidence.