September 16, 2021, 17:09

    Dying man, 103, given no food in hospital for two days after nurse ‘misread notes’

    Dying man, 103, given no food in hospital for two days after nurse ‘misread notes’

    A 103-year-old war veteran was accidentally left without food for his final two days of life at a London hospital, an inquest has heard.

    Norman Hubble, a Whipps Cross patient, was not fed due to a miscommunication between staff, the coroner was told.

    The Essex veteran died at the hospital on Boxing Day two years ago after suffering from a lung infection while recovering from surgery for a broken leg.

    The inquest was told he was a "formidable" man who had lived a remarkably long and healthy life after serving Britain.

    Walthamstow Coroner’s Court heard that, after his third day in hospital, his doctor decided he should only be fed under supervision due to a long-term throat problem that meant he struggled to eat.

    However, a nurse misread his patient notes and he was not fed at all – a consequence, his wife claimed, of “a lazy atmosphere” at the hospital, My London reports.

    Whipps Cross Hospital's emergency department (file photo)

    Alamy Stock Photo)

    Coroner Graeme Irvine concluded the failure to feed Norman was a “significant error” that made his final days worse – but said it was not a direct cause of his death in 2019.

    In a witness statement read out to the court, Norman’s wife Yvonne said that, on his final day, he told her: “If I don’t have a cup of tea and a biscuit, I will die.”

    She wrote: “My husband was let down in his life by the lack of care and urgency given to him.”

    Whipps Cross Hospital is in Walthamstow, east London


    The hospital’s senior nurse Rahul Luka apologised to Norman’s family for the “basic things which were done wrong” and assured them Whipps Cross had “taken lessons” from it.

    Coroner Irvine concluded: “One can’t imagine how it must be during the seasonal period to be recovering from a broken hip when one is 103 but that is made even worse when you can’t even have sustenance.

    “It seems to me that nurses had a cursive look at the notes, saw the words ‘nil by mouth’ and followed that instruction.

    “What is clear is that this is a gentleman of his generation: he was stoic, independent and uncomplaining.

    “It is very rare that I deal with a case of a man who made it to 103 and saw active service.

    “The information from family is that he was a formidable man. He managed to get to an old age with very little medical issues whatsoever.”

    The coroner recorded the death as accidental, rather than by natural causes, due to his view that Norman’s illness would not have happened if he had not fallen at home.

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