Dying man, 73, hit head on DGH ward floor – inquest

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A PENSIONER died at the DGH after falling over and banging his head.

David Booth, 73, from Compton Street, was admitted to hospital on March 12 suffering from a stomach tumour and gastric problems for which he had already had an operation back in 1999.

Twenty-five days later he died when fluid from his bowels travelled up his throat and flooded his lungs – with an inquest into his death last week listing a bleed around the brain as a major contributing factor.

That injury was caused when he fell on March 31, hitting his head on the ward floor near the end of the bed he was sleeping in.

Speaking at Thursday’s Eastbourne Magistrates Court hearing, Dr Booth’s family questioned staff as to why the former consultant gynaecologist had been trying to walk unaided – particularly as he had been struggling with mobility in recent days.

A host of NHS staff gave evidence during the hearing, with the general consensus being that Dr Booth was trying to go to the toilet.

Anne Davies, a junior sister on the Cuckmere Ward where Dr Booth was staying, referring to the fact he was out of bed despite having bottles within reach during the night, said, “Sometimes Dr Booth found it easier to pass water standing up.”

Nurses also defended the decision not to replace a nasal gastric tube which had been draining the excess fluid from his bowels and could conceivably have prevented his from dying when he did.

The Trust’s divisional nurse for medicine Jackie Kinch said, “If we had tried to put the tube down his nose it would have been very difficult and added to his distress.”

And the coroner was told that by that stage, Dr Booth’s care had moved from being curative to purely palliative care and making him comfortable during his final days.

Dr Booth’s wife Jean praised the nursing staff for their support and care. And, remembering her loving husband and one particular visiting hours, she said, “The whole family visited him and we had a lovely time and David was reminiscing, joking and making us all laugh.”

Recording a verdict of accidental death, East Sussex deputy coroner Joanna Pratt said, “It seems to me that the most likely explanation was that he got out of bed to use a bottle or having used on in bed.”