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‘Horrendous’ patient death after staff mistake physical injuries for mental health condition

A patient died from a serious spinal injury after emergency staff incorrectly attributed his physical condition to his mental health issues, an inquest heard.

Robert Walaszkowski, who had been detained at a secure mental health unit run by North East London Foundation Trust in October 2019, suffered a serious injury after running into a door on the unit.

Staff from London Ambulance Service did not suspect a spinal injury and he was taken to the emergency department at Queen’s Hospital in Romford with a suspected head injury. An inquest heard he did not receive a spinal examination and imaging of the spine, despite this being required due to the nature of his injury and presentation.

He was discharged from A&E the following day, and was then placed on the floor of a private patient transport vehicle, to be transported back to the mental health unit, Goodmayes Hospital. He arrived at the hospital unresponsive. He never recovered consciousness and died of his injuries a month later.

An inquest jury has recorded a narrative conclusion and found that neglect contributed to Robert’s death.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 24 September 2021


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