Belfast Telegraph

Man with learning disabilities died after he swallowed spoon in hospital

By Mark Edwards

A Belfast man with learning disabilities died after swallowing a spoon at Muckamore Abbey Hospital in Co Antrim, a coroner's court has heard.

Martin Lagan (52) was an inpatient on the Molylena Ward at the hospital, which treats people with mental health issues.

Laganside Court in Belfast heard yesterday Mr Lagan died on August 13, 2015, from acute peritonitis after a teaspoon he swallowed perforated his small intestines.

Giving evidence, nurse Anne-Marie Slane, who was on duty the day before Mr Lagan died, said he was closely supervised at meal times to prevent him from aspirating his food, as he had difficulty swallowing.

Asked if he would have been able to get a spoon himself during meal times, Ms Slane said: "He would not have had access and the staff would have hold of the spoon when feeding him."

The court heard Mr Lagan had a history of making himself vomit by putting his hand down his throat but no history of swallowing foreign objects.

Aiden Corrigan, representing Belfast Health Trust, told coroner Suzanne Anderson it was not clear how Mr Lagan had obtained the spoon. Nurse Danielle Gallagher, who was on overnight shift on August 12, told the court Mr Lagan made himself vomit at least four times before falling sleep around 2am.

She said she called the on-call doctor, Dr Daniel McCallon, who advised her to continue with present care, as Mr Lagan had a history of self-induced vomiting, but to call back if his condition deteriorated.

However, Mr Lagan woke at 5am and began to vomit a brown charcoal substance.

Dr McCallon then examined Mr Lagan's stomach and chest to check for possible obstruction or perforation of the bowel. He also examined a sample of vomit and decided no further action was to be taken and Mr Lagan should be assessed by the day team.

Asked if he had made the right decision, the doctor said: "At that time, with what I saw and was presented with, I thought that was the right decision."

Mr Lagan's condition deteriorated at around 12pm and Nurse Maeve Curran, in a statement read out in court, said Mr Lagan appeared unsteady. He was transferred into a wheelchair where he appeared to make stiff movements with his limbs.

Ms Curran stated: "Just after 12.10pm, I contacted the ward doctor to inform him Martin's pulse was raised and informed him of the stiff movements, also that Martin had been transferred into a wheelchair and appeared to be grey around the mouth."

Mr Lagan was then transferred to a clinic room for further treatment. Ms Curran added: "Martin began to vomit black liquid through his mouth and nose.

"Martin was moved forward in the wheelchair, he then became unresponsive. He was then moved on to the floor into the recovery position."

Nursing staff called for an ambulance and attempted to resuscitate Mr Lagan but he was pronounced dead at 1.13pm.

The inquest continues.

Belfast Telegraph

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