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Father who died hours before daughter’s birth could have been saved if heart defect had not been missed, coroner rules


A father who died just hours before his daughter was born could have been saved, a coroner has ruled.

On the morning of June 7 last year, Rebecca Moss went to wake her partner, Thomas Gibson, and told him: “Wake up, it’s baby day” as she was due to give birth that day by elective caesarean section.

An inquest heard she went to kiss him, but found him stiff and coldso called an ambulance.

Despite the efforts of emergency services, he was pronounced dead at his home on the same day his daughter Harper was born.

An inquest at Stockport Crown Court heard that 40-year-old Gibson might have lived if a heart defect had not been missed during a hospital scan 11 days earlier.

If medics had correctly interpreted his electrocardiogram (ECG) scan at Wythenshawe Hospital in Greater Manchester, he could have been given a life-saving device such as a pacemaker, coroner Christopher Morris said.

Concluding the two-day inquest, he said: “I can’t even imagine what that must have been like for her, especially in the context of what should have been the happiest day for both of them.”

The coroner ruled that Mr Gibson died as a result of sudden cardiac death due to myocardial fibrosis.

He added: “Eleven days earlier Mr Gibson had been seen at his local hospital which provides specialist cardiac services.

“When the clinical team assessed him, they did not realize that the ECG showed he had complete heart block.

Had this been appreciated, Mr Gibson would have been admitted to the care of cardiologists and a series of tests would have been carried out, which would likely have resulted in the fitting of an implantable device, such as a pacemaker.

“It is likely that these measures could have prevented his death.”

Earlier, Dr Mark Ainsley, the hospital’s clinical director of cardiology, said that if Mr Gibson’s heart problem had been spotted he might have been monitored and treated there and then fitted with a pacemaker in a procedure that took “less than an hour ” takes up. .

The coroner asked: ‘Do you think this sequence of events could probably have prevented his death?’

Dr. Ainsley said: “I think the short duration between the ECG and his heart failing makes it more than likely that he could have avoided his death.”

At the inquest Mr Gibson, who worked at a timber yard, was declared physically fit but had been suffering from stomach problems including cramps and diarrhea for about three weeks before his death.

This was the reason he went to the hospital emergency room on May 27 last year.

He was seen by Dr Oliver Handley, who recognized that his ECG trace showed signs of an abnormality and referred it to a senior doctor, Dr Thomas Bull, the medical registrar, for a second opinion.

Dr. Bull said the ECG scan likely represented an abnormality he described as intraventricular block, which is “not an unusual finding” and not clinically “significant” without other heart-related symptoms.

Since there were no other heart-related symptoms, he was discharged.

But later analysis concluded that the ECG identified complete heart block, also known as third-degree heart block, the most serious type.

Dr. Matthew Thornber, a consultant at the hospital, said the two ECGs were not “textbook examples” of heart block disease. “This is not a barn door you can easily miss,” he said.

Toli Onon, Chief Medical Officer at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We would once again extend our condolences and sincere condolences to Mr Gibson’s family at this very difficult time.

‘The Trust has carried out a thorough investigation to investigate the circumstances surrounding Mr Gibson’s very sad death and we apologize for any instances where our care has not met the high standards we strive for.

“We are committed to providing the best possible care for our patients and we will carefully review the coroner’s conclusion to ensure that further lessons for the trust are addressed and applied to our ongoing work to keep our patients safe , the quality of care and experience.”

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Outside court, Ms Moss, supported by lawyers from CL Medilaw, who represented the family at the hearing, said: “There were serious failings in care following Tom’s admission to hospital in 2023.

“The ECG showing complete heart block was missed by the doctors and he was discharged without knowing the dangers of sudden cardiac death.

‘Medicine admitted in the last two days of the inquest that he should have been given treatment and a pacemaker.

“The expertise that could have saved Tom’s life was just a phone call away.

‘I sincerely hope that lessons will be learned from Tom’s avoidable death.

“I have been told the investigation is not about guilt, but I have every right to be angry and seek answers for Tom, Harper and our family.”

Sky News

(c) Sky News 2024: Father who died hours before daughter’s birth could have been saved if heart beat

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