‘Neglect’ led to Doncaster pensioner’s death

Vincent McKeown, 80, died from a strangulated hernia in April 2014. He visited Doncaster Royal Infirmary three times in four days in the run up to his death.
Vincent McKeown, 80, died from a strangulated hernia in April 2014. He visited Doncaster Royal Infirmary three times in four days in the run up to his death.

Failures in the care of an elderly Doncaster dad who died after repeated visits to A&E ‘amounted to neglect’, an inquest was told.

Eighty-year-old Vincent McKeown’s life could have been saved if he had been given an emergency operation two days prior to his death, a Doncaster coroner has ruled.

Medical lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have called for lessons to be learnt after Mr McKeown died from an incarcerated hernia after visiting Doncaster Royal Infirmary three times in four days.

Doncaster Coroner Nicola Mundy concluded failures in the care of Mr McKeown – secretary of Doncaster Catholic Club for more than 20 years – ‘amounted to neglect’.

She said there had been a ‘gross failure to provide basic care’ on the second day he visited A&E and began to projectile vomit a brown liquid.

The inquest was told the dad of two and stepfather underwent x-rays and blood tests on his second A&E visit but despite notes saying there were signs ‘consistent with obstruction’ in his small bowel he was diagnosed with a chest infection and discharged with antibiotics.

Two days later, Mr McKeown, of Bennetthorpe, visited A&E again because he was having difficulties breathing.

He was sent for a CT scan but on the way had to be taken to be resuscitated because his condition deteriorated.

Mr McKeown then began vomiting large amounts of brown fluid and died following resuscitation attempts.

Ms Mundy recorded a narrative verdict and said had an operation been carried out on Mr McKeown’s second visit to the hospital it is ‘likely’ he would have survived.

Mike Pinkerton, Chief Executive for Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals, said: “We extend our sincerest sympathies and apologise for the loss suffered by Mr McKeown’s family.

“Following Mr McKeown’s death we began a full internal investigation and have already implemented changes.

“These include more in-depth checks for all patients on arrival to the surgical assessment unit, and extra training based on national guidelines for staff in our Emergency Department.

“We thank HM Senior Coroner for her report and can offer assurance that lessons have been learned, and that the safety of our patients is absolutely our number one priority.”

Hayley Smith, a specialist medical negligence solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, representing the family, said: “The family were distraught when Vincent died.

“He had been in and out of hospital in the days leading up to his death and because he had been discharged they believed medical staff were in control of his condition.

“The inquest has raised many issues which the family has found extremely concerning and was not made aware of previously.

“We will now seek to work with the NHS Trust to provide further answers so that the family can begin to come to terms with how Vincent died.

“Patient safety must be the number one priority for the NHS and we will now be seeking assurances that lessons have been learnt from the evidence heard today to improve care for others in the future.”

Mr McKeown’s wife Kathleen said: “Nothing can ever turn back the clock and bring Vincent back, but we just hope medical staff will consider everything that happened and ensure a similar situation cannot occur to others.

“It was horrifying to witness Vincent’s condition deteriorate so badly over those few days and to be with him just before he passed away.”

The 68-year-old added: “The past nine months without him have been truly horrendous and I would hate for anyone to have to go through what we have.”

Catholic Club treasurer John Morgan paid tribute to Mr McKeown.

“He was a true gentleman that was highly regarded by everyone,” said John, 59.

“He was really fit and healthy and came to Catholic Club every day. You never would have known he was 80.

“We’ve been completely lost without him, he was the anchor that held it all together. We all really miss him.”