NHS Staff treated a brain tumour sufferer like a drunk just before his death

Hospital staff treated man with a brain tumour like ‘just another drunk’ in the hours before his death, inquest hears

Terry Day was diagnosed with a brain tumour in July 2010
When he was rushed to Basildon Hospital his tumour was not acknowledged
The 35-year-old was three weeks away from getting married
Coroner said there were ‘very serious failings’ at Basildon Hospital A&E

PUBLISHED: 20:18, 26 June 2013 | UPDATED: 20:25, 26 June 2013

NHS staff treated a man suffering from a diagnosed brain tumour like ‘just another drunk’ in the vital hours before his death, an inquest has heard.

Terry Day, 35, had been diagnosed with a brain tumour in July 2010 but it was not acknowledged when he was rushed to Basildon Hospital A&E with head pains and vomiting just over a year later.

His brain tumour haemorrhaged causing Mr Day to go into cardiac arrest which eventually killed him on August 14, 2011.
An inquest at Chelmsford Coroner’s Court Terry’s father, Brian Day, 59, a bricklayer from Cranham, said: ‘They just left Terry in a cubicle to die – it’s absolutely disgusting what they did.

‘They treated him like just another drunk even though they knew he had a brain tumour.’

Terry had been just three weeks away from marrying Samantha Blythe, 38, a PA from Rainham, Essex, when he was admitted to hospital in the early hours of August 13, 2011.

Ms Blythe recounted the moment police called at her door just hours before she was due to go out for her hen night.
She said: ‘The police knocked at my door at 6.45am on the Saturday and told me I needed to come to hospital immediately.

‘It was absolutely horrible.

‘We were set to marry at St Andrew’s church in Hornchurch three weeks later and we were trying for a family.

‘Doctors had told us he had a low grade tumour and had given him medication to control fitting.

‘I wasn’t ready to lose him that soon.’

Terry’s mother, Gail Major, 56, a housewife from Hornchurch, paid a tearful tribute to her son following the emotional inquest.

She said: ‘I can’t express how wonderful he was and we loved him so much.

‘The treatment the hospital gave him was absolutely appalling – he just didn’t get any.

‘He hadn’t drunk for hours and he fitted in the ambulance so they knew he had a brain tumour.

‘He was severely let down by the hospital as we have been told there was a window of opportunity where treatment could have saved him.’

Mr Day, from Wickford, Essex, had been out drinking with friends when he began suffering with pains in his head and vomiting.

The epilepsy sufferer was rushed to Basildon Hospital in an ambulance but suffered a fit on route.

Consultant Saad Abdulla told the inquest: ‘The fits should have been the most important factor here.

‘The alcohol factor should increase the risk to make it even more important to be cautious.

‘Our system should have dictated neurological observation. A continuing observation would see a pattern, but this wasn’t there.’

Mandy Brokenshaw, emergency planning liaison officer at the hospital, said an internal investigation had suggested staff relied too heavily on ambulance notes which stated paramedics thought the patient was drunk.

She added: ‘Concern about his tumour was noted, but not addressed.’

Mr Day was placed on a saline drip – a treatment commonly prescribed for drunk people – despite being only slightly over the drink-drive alcohol limit.

The inquest heard that staff failed to make regular observations on Mr Day every half-an-hour as had been recommended despite concerns due to his brain tumour as well as his epilepsy.

Mr Day went into cardiac arrest when his tumour haemorrhaged causing irreversible damage to his brain.

Mrs Brokenshaw added: ‘Failing to take regular observations is a clear breach of practice.

‘From an investigation’s point of view the hospital does take any serious incident seriously and does investigate it thoroughly and any findings and recommendations will be implemented by the trust.’

Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray said there had been ‘very serious failings’ in the care given at Basildon Hospital after recording a narrative inquest verdict.

Mrs Beasley-Murray said: ‘Terry Brian Day had been diagnosed from suffering from a low grade brain tumour.

‘There were very serious failings in the care he received in the A&E department.

‘Even if the care provided had been appropriate the outcome may still have been the same.’

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