Blunders at Calderdale Royal Hospital led to death of Halifax woman

Calderdale Royal Hospital
Calderdale Royal Hospital

The death of a 77-year-old woman could have been avoided were it not for errors made by staff at Calderdale Royal Hospital, an inquest at Halifax Coroner’s Court heard.

Shirley Hemingway, formerly of Chevinedge, Halifax, died on January 20, 2013, of a cardiac arrest as the result of undiagnosed hernia of the bowel.

Mrs Hemingway was originally admitted to Calderdale Royal Hospital A&E on January 13, 2013, with symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting.

Dr Tabassun, a junior doctor who examined Mrs Hemingway, failed to spot the condition through a physical examination, an x-ray and a blood test which was marked as showing nothing abnormal.

Dr Papathanasoulopolis, who was working as an orthopedic surgeon at the time of Mrs Hemingway’s admission, said Dr Tabassun should have spoken to him about the results of the x-ray and blood test before discharging Mrs Hemingway, adding that had he seen the results he would have sent her for surgery.

Coroner Oliver Longstaff told the court that calls had been made to bring Dr Tabassun to appear at the inquest, but said she had left the country in June 2013 and it has not been possible to trace her.

Prof Finan of Leeds Teaching Hospital was asked by the court to produce an independent report on the death.

He said Mrs Hemingway “presented the signs and symptoms of bowel obstruction. The blood test was quite abnormal - there is no question it should have alerted the doctor that Mrs Hemingway required admission.”

He added that Mrs Hemingway probably wouldn’t have died when she did if the problem had been spotted.

Mrs Hemingway was re-admitted to Calderdale Royal Hospital on January 20, 2013, after her condition had deteriorated - the doctors were unable to help her.

During his closing remarks, Mr Longstaff said: “It is beyond doubt that the decision to discharge Mrs Hemingway on January 13 was inappropriate.

“Events took a turn based on this treatment.”

He recorded a verdict of death by misadventure before offering condolences to the family.