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Family's fury as patient left lying in own waste, inquest hears
Updated 10:16am Thursday 17th July 2014 in News
The family of a St Keverne man left to lie in his own waste by hospital staff have spoken of their disappointment over the care he received in the days leading up to his death.
Dennis Tripconey, formerly of Glebe Close in Mawgan and subsequently Lenarth, was said to be “mortified” by being left in his own stools, with his colostomy bag left full and a bowl of “black sick” in the sink.
His wife Ann said: “He said to me, ‘I was ringing and ringing and no one came. I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life.’ He was absolutely mortified.”
She told an inquest into his death: “We’re disappointed – very disappointed.”
It was after Mr Tripconey, 72, was taken to the Royal Cornwall Hospital on October 10 last year, following a fall that broke his thigh bone.
After two days he underwent an operation but four days later, on October 16, he was dead.
A post-mortem subsequently revealed that he died from coronary artery thrombosis – a blood clot resulting from both undiagnosed coronary artery disease and the surgery.
The inquest heard Mr Tripconey, who used to be a machine driver for Llewellyn Lugg, had a history of rheumatoid arthritis and chronic kidney disease, but heart disease had never shown up.
He was hospitalised after getting up in the night to use the bathroom and felt cramp in his leg. As he turned he fell and was unable to get up. An x-ray showed he had fractured his femur.
Initially he was told he would be operated on that night, but it was not until two days later he actually received surgery.
Mr Jonathan Matthews, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, said the operation was put back due to another patient being admitted who would have come to harm had they not been treated straight away.
As Mr Tripconey had a closed fracture, which was less urgent, he was put on traction – another way of treating such fractures, using weights – until a theatre slot became available.
Mrs Tripconey was concerned that the delay in surgery meant her husband would have been too weak to recover and this contributed to his death.
However, Mr Matthews said: “It wouldn’t have a marked affected on the fact that he had a heart attack, if we had done surgery straight away.”
He added of the heart condition: “It may well have been that if he did not fall over it would have got worse and he would have had a heart attack. This surgery would have put a bit more stress on his heart.”
Coroner Barrie van den Berg recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Speaking after the inquest Mrs Tripconey said her husband was a popular man, whose funeral at Treswithian Downs Crematorium was attended by hundreds of people and was standing room only.
“He was so full of life,” she said, adding that he lived for his family, which included three children and six grandchildren.
A spokesperson for the Royal Cornwall Hospital said yesterday: “We would like to express our condolences to Dennis Tripconey’s family following his death last October.
“We would always wish to know if any patient’s experience does not meet the high standard of care and compassion we expect and do encourage patients and their families to raise any concerns with us so that we can put them right at the time.
“The issues Mr Tripconey’s family have raised are important elements of our care promise. We will look in to them and share our findings fully with the family, making sure that we learn from any shortcomings that are identified.”