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Son accuses Royal Free Hospital of ‘neglect’ over father’s death

PUBLISHED: 15:00 21 March 2014

St Pancras Coroner's Court

St Pancras Coroner's Court

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The son of an elderly man who died after suffering a brain haemorrhage has accused the Royal Free Hospital of “neglect” at an inquest into his death.

Hyman Wagner, 88, of Golders Green, fell out of his bed and suffered a severe head injury on November 5 last year during a three-day stay at the Hampstead hospital.

Despite doctors’ warnings, he discharged himself from hospital the next day.

A day later Mr Wagner was taken to University College London Hospital in Bloomsbury after he collapsed at his home.

He failed to regained consciousness and died 15 days later following a brain haemorrhage.

“It was a serious fall,” his son David Wagner told St Pancras Coroner’s Court on Friday.

“The injury was all round the back of his head. We had to get him a new skullcap because it was soaked with blood.”

Mr Wagner, an Orthodox Jew, was supposed to be observed regularly by nurses but no-one carried out the last scheduled check ­before he fell.

Mr Wagner, who suffered severe arthritis, was admitted to the Pond Street hospital on November 3 ­unable to stand up or walk.

His mobility improved but it was speculated he fell trying to climb bed rails to go to the toilet.

Senior matron Jane Nicholson said nurses should not raise the rails on the bed of someone with poor mobility to prevent a similar fall and there was “poor documentation” of Mr Wagner’s observations ­before and after his fall.

“The frequency of his neurological observations did not meet the trust’s guidelines,” she said. “We are re-training staff... and we will use this case as an example of where we did not meet our standards.”

Mr Wagner’s son said he had highlighted 22 instances of ­alleged “neglect” in his father’s care.

The inquest heard that Mr Wagner’s fall took place during a pilot study of a scheme to prevent falls.

A scan of Mr Wagner’s brain later that day did not reveal any signs of a brain haemorrhage.

But his son told the court that the hospital should have done more to stop his father from leaving the hospital. “I felt that ­decision was a death sentence for him,” he said.

Consultant Dr Khai Cheah explained that the hospital could not legally stop Mr Wagner from discharging himself as he was deemed mentally capable of making decisions about his own care.

Assistant coroner Dr Richard Brittain adjourned the inquest to obtain more evidence.

The Royal Free Hospital declined to comment while the inquest is ongoing.

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