Page last updated at 14:11 GMT, Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Stroke patient 'had broken neck'

Professor David Black
Professor Black said doctors failed to diagnose Mrs Lavender's broken neck

An elderly patient who was being treated for a stroke at a Hampshire hospital had in fact broken her neck, an inquest has been told.

A medical expert said Elsie Lavender, 83, became weaker and weaker because the injury was missed.

She died two weeks after being admitted to the Gosport War Memorial Hospital (GWMH) in 1996.

Inquests are being held at Portsmouth Coroner's Court into the deaths of 10 patients at the GWMH over 10 years ago.

Mrs Lavender had fallen at home and was taken to Haslar Hospital where doctors diagnosed a stroke and sent her to the GWMH.

Professor David Black, a specialist in elderly care, said he believed Mrs Lavender had actually broken her neck. She was paralysed on both sides of her body and was unable to do anything for herself.

'No rehabilitation'

He told the jury that while she was at GWMH "there was no explanation in the notes of why she was in pain".

"She was slowly getting weaker and weaker," he said.

"There was no rehabilitation and no treatment for her condition."

Six of the 10 patients were - (clockwise from top left) - Sheila Gregory, Robert Wilson, Enid Spurgin, Elsie Devine, Arthur (Brian) Cunningham and Ruby Lake
The elderly patients died at GWMH between 1996 and 1999

On 5 March 1996 she was given 100mg of diamorphine and she died the next day.

The official cause of death was recorded as a stroke.

Professor Black said that if he had been treating her he would have put her in a neck brace and given her a CT scan.

He said: "Several doctors, including medical consultants, failed to make an adequate diagnosis of her condition."

On Monday the inquest heard how a senior nurse at the hospital, Anita Turbritt, was concerned that guidelines on painkillers were not being followed.

Some families believe sedatives were over-prescribed at the hospital and led to the death of their relatives.

Hampshire Police have carried out a series of investigations into the treatment of patients at the hospital in the late 1990s, but no prosecutions have been brought.

The inquests, expected to last six weeks, are being held into the deaths of Arthur Cunningham, 79, Elsie Devine, 88, Sheila Gregory, 91, Ruby Lake, 84, Elsie Lavender, 83, Geoffrey Packman, 67, Leslie Pittock, 83, Helena Service, 99, Enid Spurgin, 92, and Robert Wilson, 75.

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