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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 August 2006, 17:26 GMT 18:26 UK
Hospital shower kills cancer man
Daryl Eyles
Mr Eyles was told he had achieved "complete remission"
A father-of-two who had just beaten cancer died from Legionnaires' disease caused by a dirty hospital shower head, an inquest has heard.

Daryl Eyles, 37, died the day he was due to be discharged from Royal United Hospital (RUH) in Bath after months of chemotherapy for leukaemia.

Mr Eyles, from Whiteway, probably contracted the disease after taking a shower, an RUH spokesperson said.

The hospital had admitted liability. A narrative verdict was returned.

"This was a known risk and appropriate precautions were not taken to manage the risk of legionella," said the jury foreman.

'Complete remission'

Doctors had told Mr Eyles that he should make a full recovery from cancer as he had achieved "complete remission".

The inquest heard how Mr Eyles, a security officer, had contracted the disease which is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia, on his fourth and final chemotherapy session in 2004.

He was admitted for treatment for a fever on 19 January, but died of Legionnaires' disease one month later on 13 February. A post-mortem test revealed he had traces of the legionella bug in his system.

Legionella control throughout the hospital was found to be very poor
Susan Chilvers, Health and Safety Executive

The last legionella risk assessment, which had been carried out in 2000 - four years before Mr Eyles' death - found the water tanks were not properly covered which could allow debris and insects to drop in, allowing the legionella bug to feed and multiply.

Following the report, one of the water tanks was upgraded, but the tank which fed into the William Budd ward where Mr Eyles was treated was not. An RUH spokesperson said nothing was done about the findings of the report because the document was never placed before senior figures at the hospital.

'Accepted liability'

A statement from Mr Eyles' family said: "[Daryl] was a very much loved family man who adored his children.

"Following the verdict it is absolutely clear that the trust had no policy and no real knowledge as to how to deal with the risk of Legionnaires' disease."

RUH chief executive Mark Davies denied that insufficient funding had been spent on preventing the legionella bug.

"There are always more demands than money in the NHS. Money was being spent on controlling legionella in the trust," he said.

"It's most probable that Mr Eyles contracted Legionnaires' disease while a patient at the trust. It is believed he was exposed to legionella while he used a shower on the ward.

"We've accepted liability and we were deeply saddened and shocked by this event."


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