Hospital cleared of blame for Dudley woman's death

First published in Local

A PENSIONER died from a heart attack at her Dudley home just hours after being wrongly diagnosed with a minor gastric complaint at Russells Hall Hospital.

But an inquest absolved the hospital of any blame after being told that cardiac treatment would have “hastened” her death.

However, Dr Mohammed Wani said lessons had been learned following the death of Kathleen Barford, aged 81, in November 2012.

He said a senior doctor now has to verify any decision to send home patients who have come to A&E complaining of chest pains.

Retired hairdresser Mrs Barford had not complained of pain before the day of her death when she suffered chest and abdominal pains and pain radiating down both arms.

Student doctors are also now taught that subtle changes in ECG results may indicate cardiac problems and they are taught that patients may not always describe chest and gastric pain in “classical terms.”

Mrs Barford was discharged from the hospital’s A&E after an ECG with a prescription for heartburn and indigestion remedy Gaviscon and died at home in Foxlands Drive, Lower Gornal, that evening.

But Dr Wani, a consultant in emergency medicine at Russells Hall, told last week’s inquest: “I would have admitted her and that would have hastened her death.”

He said that was because heart attack patients were given immediate medication including a blood thinner to reduce the risk of clots.

However, he said in Mrs Barford’s case, because her heart muscle had already died, thinning her blood would have increased the blood flow and hastened the rupture.

Black Country coroner Robin Balmain said the cause of death was cardiac artery thrombosis.

He said an inquest had been held to consider the events in the A&E department when she was seen by Dr Rajan Paw, but concluded there was “nothing the hospital did that impacted on her death” and she died from natural causes.

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