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Patient's hospital transfer quizzed

By Matthew McCreary

Published 03/10/2007

Questions have been raised at an inquest about the way in which medical staff were informed about the need to transfer a seriously ill patient between two local hospitals in the days leading up to his death.

Robert McCutcheon (62), a car parts inspector from Lambeg, died at Belfast City Hospital on December 5, 2003, after he experienced a number of medical problems.

His causes of death were later given as peritonitis and a perforated bladder diverticulum.

Belfast Coroner's Court heard yesterday how Mr McCutcheon, who had suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for 40 years, had been a long-term patient at Thompson House Nursing Home in Lisburn in December 2003 when he became unwell and was transferred to the Lagan Valley Hospital for treatment. Thompson House staff nurse Gillian McConvey said there had been problems with Mr McCutcheon's catheter and that there had been very little drainage from his bladder.

Dr K Yarfoh, who was working as the senior house officer in Lagan Valley's Accident and Emergency unit on December 1, said Mr McCutcheon had been suffering from shortness of breath and fever and had vomited in the ambulance on the way to hospital. Dr Yarfoh had also noted that Mr McCutcheon was not passing any urine.

Asked by Coroner John Leckey if he thought Mr McCutcheon might have peritonitis, Dr Yarfoh replied that there had been "nothing to suggest to me that he had peritonitis".

The court also heard evidence from Dr AK Xavier, who had been the medical senior house officer when Mr McCutcheon was later admitted to the Medical Assessment Unit at Lagan Valley.

He said there had been concerns over the possibility of urine in Mr McCutcheon's peritoneum and that it was suggested that he needed to be transferred to Belfast City Hospital.

At hearing.

Belfast Telegraph

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