At the inquest into the death of Evan Smith, a 21 year old football data analyst, concluded on 6th April 2021. He had a history of sickle cell disease and was recovering from sepsis following a procedure to remove a gallbladder stent. This is thought to have triggered a sickle cell crisis which led him to request oxygen. He was in a ‘lodger’ bed which are added to wards to increase capacity and don’t have oxygen or a call bell. He first asked medical staff for oxygen then called 999 from his hospital bed. A haematologist prescribed oxygen later that day but the following night he suffered a series of cardiac arrests and died the next morning. The haematology team, including a consultant who had previously treated him for sickle cell disease, were not notified until 2 days after he was admitted. At the inquest this consultant gave their opinion that he might have survived if he had been given a blood transfusion sooner.
The coroner noted that the delay in being treated with a blood transfusion caused Mr. Smith’s death but did not return a verdict of neglect. Medical staff had provided basic care, albeit focusing on his gallbladder instead of understanding how to treat patients with sickle cell disease. Since Mr. Smith’s death the hospital has created a dedicated sickle cell ward and provided extra training for medical staff.
Martin Forde QC, instructed by Suzanne White and Firdous Ibrahim of Leigh Day, represented the family at the inquest.
Read more about the case on the Leigh Day website here. Covered by the media below:
- Evening Standard
- The Times (paywall)