Man wanted leg sawn off - inquest

A 39-YEAR-old who had pleaded with doctors to saw off his diseased and “extremely painful” leg took a painkiller overdose after being left without drugs for eight hours, an inquest has heard.

Will Clarke

A 39-YEAR-old who had pleaded with doctors to saw off his diseased and “extremely painful” leg took a painkiller overdose after being left without drugs for eight hours, an inquest has heard.

Barry Thompson, who died at his home in Hanmer Avenue, Mildenhall, on March 21 last year, had spent his life battling a series of medical conditions including kidney failure and a diseased heart valve. But it was an agonisingly painful knee that dogged his final days, yesterday's inquest at Bury St Edmunds was told.

A range of expert medical witnesses from the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury and Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge described Mr Thompson's complex treatment as a “balancing act” between the consequences of a medication and its benefits.


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Questioning the doctors, Sandra Thompson, Mr Thompson's mother, asked why her son didn't receive painkillers during the afternoon and early evening of his discharge from Addenbrooke's the day before he died.

His sister Tina Boccuis also demanded to know why her brother, who had survived a myriad of complex conditions, was discharged when he was.

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Dr Joohi Majeed , who treated Mr Thompson in Bury, said: “I recall him asking us to take off his leg. But removing the leg would have been inappropriate because he probably would still have had pain in that area. The pain was a big issue and getting the balance right was always difficult.”

Mr Thompson was moved to a renal ward at Addenbrooke's on March 4 where he was prescribed a cocktail of drugs including powerful morphine like painkiller for his knee.

Dr John Firth described the factors which led to Mr Thompson's discharge from Addenbrooke's: “Barry had been improving and he was keen to return home. On March 18 he was able to walk 20 metres. It was felt to be appropriate with early review.

“Barry wanted to get on with life and I thought it was reasonable to let him go home. There was nothing which couldn't be done at home which could be done in hospital.”

But by the time he arrived home in Mildenhall at 8.30pm Mr Thompson had been without his powerful painkillers since 12.45pm. Mrs Thompson said her son was desperate for painkillers but remained upbeat.

Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean said the death was caused by painkiller overdose against a background of kidney failure and other problems. He said the delay in Mr Thompson taking his painkillers did not contribute to his death.

However, he advised Dr Firth to review Addenbrooke's discharge policy to ensure patients continued to receive medication while waiting for collection.

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