A hospital patient died because of a “series of missed opportunities and serious errors in judgment” by a senior doctor at a private hospital, a court was told yesterday.
James Hughes, a “family man” from Co Armagh, received “exceptionally bad” care from surgeon David Sellu, jurors were told.
Mr Hughes died at the Clementine Churchill Hospital in Harrow, north west London, on Valentine’s Day in 2010.
Sellu, of Croft Close in Hillingdon, west London, was charged with gross negligence manslaughter after he “simply ignored” the urgency of Mr Hughes’ case, jurors at the Old Bailey were told.
Mr Hughes, a 66-year-old retired builder, had the planned left knee replacement on February 5.
The operation went well but while recovering from surgery he developed abdominal pain and was transferred to the care of Sellu – who has been a doctor for four decades, prosecutors said.
Sellu, a general surgeon with a specialism in colorectal surgery, suspected that there had been a rupture in Mr Hughes’ bowel – a potentially life-threatening condition that requires surgery, jurors heard.
But instead of immediately performing surgery he ordered a CT scan for the next day, the court heard.
The scan confirmed the medic’s suspicions but he “failed” to carry out the surgery immediately and instead carried on with his own clinic, prosecutor Bobbie Cheema QC said.
After being in pain for around 40 hours, Mr Hughes was sent to the operating theatre at 9pm on February 12.
But by this point the situation had deteriorated so badly that intensive care specialists had to work to stabilise Mr Hughes before Sellu could operate on his bowel.
Four hours later, at 1am, 66-year-old Sellu was eventually able to operate, she said.
“He did what he could at that late stage to repair the damage,” Ms Cheema told jurors.
She said that after surgery Mr Hughes was transferred to the intensive care unit but he died there the following day.
“That death was avoidable,” she said. “Had (Sellu) operated the night before or even earlier on February 12, Mr Hughes would have had a very good chance of survival.
“Mr Sellu’s care of this patient on this occasion fell very far below an acceptable standard. There was a series of missed opportunities and serious errors in judgment in the care of this patient and they combined to cause Mr Hughes’ death. The standard of care was exceptionally bad.”
Sellu has also been charged with perjury. The doctor is accused of lying to Mr Hughes’ inquest while under oath.
The medic denies both charges.
The case, which is expected to last between three and four weeks, was adjourned.