Coroner blames TV dramas for ‘unrealistic expectations’ placed on hospitals

A coroner has blamed TV hospital dramas for the unrealistic expectations placed on Royal Free Hospital staff after the death of a frail 82-year-old woman.

Lela Haider died at the hospital in Pond Street, Hampstead, on November 2 last year when doctors ruptured a vein while trying to fit her with a “life-saving” dialysis tube.

Surgeons battled for hours to stem internal bleeding, but the pensioner was too frail to survive the ordeal, an inquest at St Pancras Coroner’s Court heard on Tuesday.

Her family said at the inquest that they did not believe hospital staff had done their utmost to save Mrs Haider, who lived in Clyde Court in Mornington Crescent.

But assistant deputy coroner Selena Lynch said: “It seems to me we are all so used to watching television programmes about patients in hospitals and it seems impossible that someone can die.

“We feel doctors should be able to do something about it.

“We find it impossible to believe that someone could die in hospital and sadly that’s not always the case.”

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Mrs Lynch recorded a verdict of death by complications of a necessary medical treatmen and said she was satisfied “all that could be done was done” for Mrs Haider.

A widower born in Tanzania, Mrs Haider was admitted to the Royal Free after a tube to administer dialysis became infected and dislodged.

Ben Lindsey, consultant vascular and transplant surgeon, said: “We were in a sort of checkmate situation.”

The 82-year-old, whose later years had been blighted by “chronic and debilitating conditions” linked to kidney failure, suffered catastrophic internal bleeding when doctors tried to fit a new tube.