A PENSIONER died from an “undiagnosed and potentially treatable” condition, a coroner has ruled.
Joseph Lionel Partridge was taken to South Tyneside District Hospital after he had been kept awake all night complaining of shortness of breath and chest pain.
Doctors initially thought he may have been suffering from pancreatitis or pneumonia.
But an inquest, held by Coroner Terence Carney, heard that the 77-year-old died from a pooling of blood in his chest – known as a haemothorax – caused by a ruptured aneurysm of the thoracic aorta, which had it been detected earlier, may have been operable.
Dr Peter Nigel Cooper, a forensic pathologist, presented the findings of a post-mortem examination, carried out by his former colleague, Dr Gemma Kemp.
He explained that Mr Partridge, of Soane Gardens, South Shields, had suffered an aneurysm in his abdomen, and had treatment for it two years earlier at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
He had been left with “a large quantity of blood in his left chest cavity”, which had been the cause of his death.
Mr Partridge’s daughter, Debra Johnson, a registered nurse, read out a statement she had written documenting the events of December 15.
She said she had been at her home, in Cleadon Village, when her dad’s partner, Anne, called her with concerns.
She said: “I rushed straight round and looked through the window because Anne couldn’t find the keys to let me in. He looked dreadful. He was grey and sweating, and leaning forward in pain.
“I went round the back of the house to go in and get to him. I took one look at him, and rang 999.”
She also explained that after speaking to her brother, Stephen, on the phone, he advised her to make sure the paramedics knew about their father’s previous aneurysm.
At hospital, doctors began running tests on Mr Partridge to determine what was wrong with him. They first believed he was suffering pancreatitis, but after ruling that out, believed it was pneumonia and moved him onto a ward for treatment.
The inquest also heard that Mr Partridge had shown different blood pressures in each arm, but that this was not documented.
After he was settled on the ward, Ms Johnson explained that she left to go to his house to get some things for him, and in the meantime received a phone call from the hospital to say he had taken a turn for the worse. Mr Partridge suffered cardiac arrest, and doctors tried for 25 minutes to revive him, without success.
Mr Peter Goode, an A&E consultant at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, was called in by Mr Carney as an independent witness.
He was asked to review the evidence and determine if something could have been done differently had the aneurysm had been spotted before it ruptured.
Mr Goode said: “Even if this had been picked up at first presentation, I can’t tell you with absolute certainty that something could have been done to prevent the outcome that occurred. If I could, I would.
“Saying to the family that he was gravely ill and that they should stay with him may have been the only difference.”
Mr Carney said that even if the operation had been carried out, there was no way to know if the outcome would have been positive, but that he could not accept a finding of natural causes.
He gave his finding, saying that Mr Partridge died of “an undiagnosed and potentially treatable developing natural condition”.
After the inquest, Mr Partridge’s son, Stephen, said: “We want to thank the coroner and his team for their support throughout this difficult time.”