Coroner says he's worried patients' families will have to teach Vic medics about their loved one's conditions

Blackpool Victoria Hospital
Blackpool Victoria Hospital
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Confusion about treatment given to a heart surgery patient with Parkinson’s Disease has sparked concern from Blackpool’s coroner.

Alan Wilson wrote to the Victoria Hospital’s boss Wendy Swift after the inquest into the death of retired financial director Keith Harwood.

The court heard how Mr Harwood’s family believed a heart attack and brain damage he suffered following heart surgery was linked to ‘extreme bouts of dyskinesia’ – involuntary movement that looks like fidgeting or writhing – which, in turn, were connected to the confusion over his medicine.

Experts decided otherwise, the hearing heard, but Mr Wilson ruled medics ‘had not fully appreciated the potential significance’ of the 76-year-old’s condition, which he was diagnosed with in 2000.

He said it ‘may have been necessary to seek specialist input and advice’ but said there was none available at the hospital, and it was ‘unclear’ where doctors would get it from.

“The evidence heard at this inquest suggests medical professions may find themselves in a position whereby, as with events surrounding Mr Harwood’s care, they are faced with an unfamiliar condition and without being able to source the requisite (possibly urgent) specialist advice,” Mr Wilson said, saying the co-author of the hospital’s investigation was ‘unsure about what assistance would be available.’

“I remain therefore concerned that a family such as Mr Harwood’s may find themselves being asked to educate medical staff about the potential implications of a certain condition.”

Mr Harwood, of Garstang Road, Preston, remained seriously ill for two years after his heart attack. He died at Royal Preston Hospital in 2016, with his inquest held at the town hall in January, before Mr Wilson’s letter to Ms Swift.

Vic bosses brought in a new policy for patients with Parkinson’s Disease after its own probe identified failings, but Mr Wilson said he was concerned the response following Mr Harwood’s death ‘has not eradicated the risks of future deaths’.

He said he was ‘far from convinced’ medics knew where to get advice if they need it.

Professor Mark O’Donnell, medical director at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said: “We offer our sincere condolences to Mr Harwood’s family.

“This case dates back to 2014 and we undertook a thorough investigation at the time. As a result of that investigation, the trust produced a number of recommendations and have implemented changes to our systems to prevent any recurrence.

“All of the measures that we have taken have been notified to HM Coroner and Mr Harwood’s family.”