Coroner: Doctors must improve communication

A CORONER has told hospital doctors to improve their communication with families after concerns over a war veteran's treatment were raised at an inquest into his death.

Will Clarke

A CORONER has told hospital doctors to improve their communication with families after concerns over a war veteran's treatment were raised at an inquest into his death.

The family of Albert Cutting, 86, of Chestnut Court, Bury St Edmunds, who took part in the D-Day landings, were concerned about a number of aspects of his treatment for heart and lung problems but felt no-one was listening to them at Bury's West Suffolk Hospital, yesterday's inquest in the town was told.

Opening the inquest in Bury, Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean outlined the family concerns - including why the administering of a heart drug to ease the risk of fatal clots was not considered and why surgical stockings where removed.

Mr Cutting, who was also a driver to author Ernest Hemingway during the Second World War, died on February 28 last year, the day before he was due to go home.

Quizzing West Suffolk Hospital doctors, Mr Cutting's son, Andy, asked why his father had not been given the surgical socks he had used for the past three years to ease the risk of clots.

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In response, Dr Michael Troupesaid he was not concerned by the absence of the stockings because many patients had rejected them and there was no evidence they reduced fatal blood clots reaching the brain or lungs. However, he said the fact that Mr Cutting had worn surgical socks was not conveyed to him.

Questioned on why Mr Cutting was not given a drug to ease the flow of blood and reduce the risk of clotting, Dr Troupe said it was not considered but he said the drug in question only helped one in 400 patients and posed the risk of causing brain bleed in the event of a fall.

Giving his verdict Dr Dean said the hospital would receive a transcript of the inquest outlining the problems and potential solutions to make senior doctors more accessible to patients and families.

Dr Dean recorded a narrative verdict. He said a clot in one of Mr Cutting's lungs had occurred against a background of disease and mobility problems, and that the potential benefit of any anti-clotting drugs could not be established.

Speaking after the hearing on behalf of the family, Andy Cutting said they had felt “dismissed” by doctors at the time but were satisfied the coroner had not recorded a natural causes verdict and that anti-clotting drugs may have given the “family man and respected community worker” more time.