21-year-old died after dialling 999 from his hospital bed
A young NHS patient suffering a sickle cell crisis called 999 from his hospital bed in desperation for oxygen, an inquest into his death was told.
Evan Nathan Smith, 21, died on 25 April 2019 at North Middlesex Hospital, in Edmonton, north London, after suffering from sepsis following a procedure to remove a gallbladder stent.
The inquest heard Smith told his family he called the London Ambulance Service because he thought it was the only way to get the help he needed.
Nursing staff told Smith he did not need oxygen when he requested it in the early hours of 23 April, despite a doctor telling the inquest he had “impressed” on the nurses he should have it.
Smith’s sepsis is thought to have triggered the sickle cell crisis – a condition that causes acute pain as blood vessels to certain parts of the body become blocked.
The football stats analyst called 999 from hospital after nursing staff refused his request for oxygen, which is routinely used to relieve such pain.
Sickle cell disease is caused by unusually shaped red blood cells and is common among people of African and Caribbean heritage.
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Barnet Coroner’s Court heard Smith, from Walthamstow in East London, might have survived if he had been offered a blood transfusion sooner but the hospital’s haematology team were not told he had been admitted.
He was being held in a “lodger” bed – a bed added to a ward for extra capacity – and did not have access to oxygen or a call bell.
When he was seen by a haematologist later that day, he was prescribed oxygen but was already in the early stages of a sickle cell crisis.
He suffered a series of cardiac arrests on the night of 24 April and died at 5.55am on 25 April.
A pathologist found his cause of death to be multiple organ dysfunction and cerebral infarction.
Dr Arne De Kreuk, a consultant haematologist who had previously treated Smith at North Middlesex, was not informed of his patient’s presence in the hospital until the evening of 20 April – two days after he was admitted.
Dr De Kreuk said he would have “appreciated” being informed of Smith’s admission sooner, adding: “With sickle cell disorder, time does matter.”
Martin Forde QC, for Smith’s family, said: “Do you think that had a transfusion been given when the symptoms appeared on 23 April then the outcome would have been different?”