A CORONER said South Yorkshire hospital staff “hastened” an elderly patient’s death when they accidentally disconnected his breathing machine.
Former miner Dennis Payling, aged 79, died less than an hour after his oxygen supply was interrupted at Rotherham District General Hospital last February.
Rotherham Coroner Nicola Mundy said there was a “clear failure to take the necessary steps” after nursing staff knocked out a ventilation pipe while giving him a bed bath.
She also criticised some witnesses for giving “inconsistent evidence” during the inquest at Rotherham Coroner’s Court - after she had to recall a care assistant because his statement to the court did not tie in with what he had told police.
The inquest heard Mr Payling, a single man of Cromer Close, Rawmarsh, was admitted to hospital on February 16 after suffering a stroke.
He was put on a breathing machine but his condition deteriorated to the extent doctors decided they would not attempt resuscitation if he went into cardiac or respiratory arrest.
On the morning of February 21, at around 6.50am, nurse Saria Ramful and care support worker Tony Carberry were giving Mr Payling a bed bath when the machine was knocked.
Mr Carberry, called to give evidence to the inquest for a second time, said: “As I was moving the safety rails down I had to move the blue tubing from the machine.
“As I did it the blue tube came off and a white disc came out. I put the white disc back but the noise changed. I then put the disc on the side.”
Coroner Mundy asked why he had not mentioned attempting to replace the disc on his first appearance before the court.
He said he had been referring to notes made by the hospital’s internal inquiry, rather than the more detailed police inquiry.
The coroner said she was convinced an untrained staff member had tried to fix the machine further, because later investigations revealed it had been put back together incorrectly.
But she said “despite questioning” of Ms Ramful and Mr Carberry she had not discovered who had tried to repair the machine.
She said the interruption to the oxygen flow had lasted up to 15 or 20 minutes - and a physiotherapist trained in operating the machine was not contacted until well after 7am.
Mr Payling died soon afterwards.
The coroner, recording a narrative verdict, said: “The interruption of the oxygen flow contributed to his death in that it hastened his death, even if it was by a matter of hours or days.”
She said she would write to the chief executive of Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust to raise concerns about communication between hospital staff.