Man Died After Medics Missed Disease 6 Times
April 21, 2010
By Nick Britten
Malcolm Drake, 23, died from Crohn’s Disease and spent his final hours unable to move or eat. He had sought help six times in the days before he died, but GPs and two Accident and Emergency doctors had missed his condition.
He was even refused an MRI scan three days before he died that would have shown up the condition, the hearing was told.
Mr Drake’s former fiancée, Sophie Lindop, 25, told the inquest yesterday that she found him dead on their sofa on Christmas Day 2007.
In a statement read to the inquest, at Hanley Town Hall, Stoke-on-Trent, Miss Lindop said: “By December 18 he was getting worse each day and was deteriorating in front of us.
“I couldn’t believe they were still doing nothing for Malcolm. It was very frustrating but I felt powerless when everyone said it was just a strain.”
Referring to to Mr Drake’s second visit to A&E on December 22, Miss Lindop added: “I looked at him and he looked seriously ill.
“He looked like an old man and I couldn’t believe the doctor was sending him home when he was so obviously ill.
“As we left I looked back into the cubicle, had a moment of hesitation and thought about taking him back into the cubicle.
“It just didn’t seem right that they were discharging him, but the staff just seemed to want us out of there.”
She added: “The doctor said he didn’t need an MRI scan – that he should go home and exercise.”
Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease of the intestines and causes inflammation of the digestive tract, particularly the lower part of the small intestine.
Miss Lindop told the hearing how Mr Drake had urged her to visit her family on Christmas Day as it was their five month-old son Zak’s first Christmas.
She left a phone next to Mr Drake on the sofa and called him every 20 minutes to check on him, but dashed back to their home when he stopped answering the phone, only to discover his body on the sofa with the television and Christmas tree lights still on.
Mr Drake had first complained of abdominal pain in mid-November before the first of six visits to medics and physiotherapists in the 15 days before he died, during which time his right leg had swollen considerably and he was in such pain he couldn’t eat.
He saw a GP on December 10th, went to A&E on the 13th, another GP on the 17th and finally A&E again on the 22nd. In between, he had two bouts of physiotherapy.
The hearing was told that Dr Richard Aw, a junior doctor who saw him at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire’s Accident and Emergency department on December 22nd, did not refer to his previous recent visits which were on his medical records, nor make a written record of them when Mr Drake explained who he had seen.
Dr Aw had been employed as a GP locum and had only one year’s experience.
He diagnosed Mr Drake as suffering from a groin strain “consistent with previous findings” and sent him home with a dose of painkillers.
Dr Aw also claimed that despite ambulance staff apparently noting a ‘palpable mass’ in Mr Drake’s right thigh on the way to A&E, he did not find any lump in the leg himself.
It emerged that Dr Aw had advised him against having an MRI. Giving evidence, he admitted that an MRI would have shown up the Crohn’s disease.
Simon Fox, representing Miss Lindop and Mr Drake’s family, told Dr Aw: “Had Mr Drake had the scan, it would’ve led to the diagnosis – Mr Drake had it exactly right didn’t he?”
Dr Aw replied: “Yes.”
The hearing continues.