Hospital criticised over nose bleed man's 'avoidable' death

Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead
Image caption Julian Hunter went hospital a week after being attacked in May 2008

A man who died in hospital following a massive nose bleed was unlawfully killed, a coroner has ruled.

Julian Hunter, 44, suffered a broken nose when he was repeatedly punched during a robbery. He went to hospital a week later with a nose bleed.

Coroner Andrew Walker criticised the Royal Free Hampstead for not recognising the severity of Mr Hunter's injury.

His life support machine was switched off two days after being admitted.

Mr Walker said the Royal Free contributed to Mr Hunter's death by providing "inadequate" treatment.

Slumped in bed

He said the hospital failed to realise the patient was suffering from serious blood loss, adding: "Mr Hunter is not here with us today because it was not recognised."

Dr Robert Chapman, who conducted the post-mortem examination, told the inquest at North London Coroner's Court the fatal nose bleed was a significant factor in the cardiac arrest which caused Mr Hunter's death.

Mr Hunter, from Finchley, had to be admitted to then hospital on 26 May 2008 after his nose had been bleeding for two hours.

He collapsed and was found slumped in his hospital bed the same day, more than an hour after he was last checked by a nurse, the inquest heard.

He had suffered a heart attack and his brain was swollen.

Mr Hunter was put on a life support machine which was turned off on 28 May.

False imprisonment

Nose and throat surgeon Dr Maurice Hawthorne described the medical care as "sub-standard" and said Mr Hunter's death was "avoidable".

He said hourly monitoring and preparations for a blood transfusion would probably have saved Mr Hunter's life.

After the inquest, Andrew McGowan, the lawyer representing Mr Hunter's family, said: "They are deeply relieved the facts surrounding Julian's death have been clarified and now it can be considered whether there can be further criminal proceedings."

Mr McGowan said the family was discussing possible compensation with the hospital.

A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said a 30-year-old man was convicted in January 2009 of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, false imprisonment and robbery of Mr Hunter and was later sentenced to a total of 44 months in prison.

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