Family question use of neck support after Letchworth man’s death at Lister Hospital

A FAMILY concerned that the use of a neck support caused a relative’s death have been assured by medical professionals that this was not the case.

Relatives of Letchworth GC resident Keith Goodwin, who died in Lister Hospital on September 15, 2009, attended an inquest on Tuesday where they questioned two doctors, an orthopaedic registrar and a pathologist.

Particular concerns were raised about the attachment of a cervical collar used to support the 68-year-old’s neck and the decision to recline him, as Mr Goodwin was pronounced dead shortly after.

A post mortem discovered that the patient, who lived in Archers Way, had suffered a hairline fracture to the base of his neck.

Pathologist Dr Samita Agarwal said that although the fracture to the cervical spine could have been fatal, due to the patient’s several long-standing severe health conditions which included ischaemic heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, it was difficult to determine how this fracture was caused and what resulted in his death.

After hearing evidence, Hertfordshire coroner Edward Thomas returned a verdict of natural causes, declaring a cardiorespiratory failure was the primary cause of death, with ischaemic heart disease, bronchopneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and a fracture to the cervical spine as secondary causes.

Mr Thomas, who described Mr Goodwin as a “quiet and unassuming man”, said: “It is likely that a series of complex health matters caused his death.”

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Mr Goodwin had initially been admitted to Lister a week before his death after suffering with a shortness of breath.