Nurse heard shout for help and called for doctor who never arrived, inquest told

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Peter Bradley Peter Bradley

A pensioner admitted to Airedale Hospital with a urinary infection died after falling out of bed and hitting his head, an inquest heard.

Peter Bradley, 77, was all set to be sent home the next day when a nurse heard him shout for help and found him on the floor between his bed and his locker. Mr Bradley, of Marina Crescent, Skipton, was assessed by the nurse who spotted a bruise on his head, helped him back into bed and bleeped a doctor who never arrived, the inquest in Bradford was told yesterday.

Staff nurse Joe Hunter said he had not got a response to his bleep but had been told by a colleague that a doctor was already on the way to the ward.

It later emerged that doctor was seeing another patient and was not told about Mr Bradley.

It was four hours later when a different nurse found Mr Bradley unresponsive in bed that he was eventually seen by a doctor and a CT scan was requested. It revealed he had suffered a massive haemorrhage.

Mr Bradley’s family, who were at the inquest, had prepared 22 questions for Airedale NHS Foundation Trust about his care.

Among questions were: why was he was not seen sooner by a doctor after the fall; why it took six hours for him to get a head scan; and why did a nurse give him a sedative when he had a head injury and was having regular neuro-checks.

The family also questioned why bed rails had not been put up when the hospital had identified him as a high-risk patient for falls after previous strokes and why were they left to find out about the fall themelves after noticing a large lump on his head.

Mr Bradley's daughter Heather Bradley said the family received a telephone call telling them her father was unresponsive and to come in, but nothing was said about a fall. “We had to ask a doctor about his head. Even when we got there we were not told about the fall.

“I’ve had to explain to my 12-year-old daughter her grandfather is not coming home,” she said.

The inquest heard from doctors giving evidence that if Mr Bradley, who had severe heart and kidney disease, had not fallen he might have gone on to live for months and possibly a few years. The hospital trust held an emergency meeting immediately after Mr Bradley’s death, informing the Primary Care Trust of the “serious untoward incident” and carried out an investigation.

A new bleep system has now been introduced where doctors have to acknowledge receiving it, when they are on their way to the patient, when they are with the patient and when they have dealt with the task.

Assistant Bradford Coroner Dr Dominic Bell asked the Trust to return today to give further assurances that any remedial measures it has introduced to prevent future similar incidents and deaths are robust.

He said he particularly wanted to hear about criteria for using bed rails, giving sedatives to head injury patients and communicating with families after an adverse incident or outcome.

The hearing continues.

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