A sickle cell disease patient who rang 999 from his hospital bed after being refused oxygen would not have died if medics had recognised his symptoms and offered a blood transfusion sooner, a coroner has said.

Evan Nathan Smith, 21, died at North Middlesex Hospital in Edmonton, north London, in April 2019 after developing sepsis following a procedure to remove a gallbladder stent a week earlier.

The sepsis precipitated a sickle cell crisis in Mr Smith, where a change in red cells can restrict the flow of blood to an organ.

Although the disease is common among people of African or Caribbean heritage, the Barnet inquest heard that nursing staff did not have specific training in managing the condition. 

Mr Smith, a football stats analyst, was told he did not need oxygen because his blood saturation was high enough. 

He rang the London Ambulance Service in the early hours of April 23, but after speaking with nurses the operator decided not to send paramedics.

He was being held in a ‘lodger’ bed — a bed added to a ward for extra capacity — and did not have access to piped oxygen or a call bell.

A haematologist prescribed oxygen later that day but he did not receive a blood transfusion until late on April 24. He suffered a series of cardiac arrests and died hours later as a result of sickle cell crisis.

Coroner Dr Andrew Walker, who did not make a finding of neglect, said ‘there was a failure to appreciate the significance’ of Mr Smith’s symptoms by those caring for him at the time. 

The hospital now has a dedicated ward for sickle cell patients. 

Mr Smith’s parents, Charles and Betty, said: ‘The tragic way in which Evan died is something we will live with for the rest of our lives.’

By admin