Stephen Davies

Name: Stephen Davies
Died: December 20, 2014
Age at death: 46
Cause of death: Medical malpractice (Broken neck)
Location: Bridgend, Wales, UK

Details:
Stephen Davies was a “kind and gentle” 46-year-old man when he was was admitted to the hospital with a stomach infection. In addition to autism he had Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, which causes severe epilepsy, and had several seizures while he was in the hospital. When he recovered from one particular seizure, he was on the floor and in severe pain.

Although Stephen was in the hospital, presumably with lots of doctors around, nobody thought to check whether he had been badly injured in the fall even though his face was swollen, he was screaming that his neck was hurting, and he had in the past suffered a skull fracture during a seizure and must have known what a broken bone felt like. Although Stephen had a degenerative spine condition that would have left him more vulnerable to suffering this kind of injury, no one put a brace on his neck or examined him thoroughly; they were more worried about his seizures. Instead of examining his injuries, they put him in a medically-induced coma and transported him to another hospital.

It was only two weeks later when doctors brought him out of the coma and Stephen reported that he had lost feeling in his arms and legs that doctors realized what had happened. It turned out that when he had broken his neck during one of his seizures, nobody but Stephen had noticed, and nobody had listened to Stephen.

Stephen was now permanently paralyzed and having a hard time time breathing. Just three months after the initial injury and despite a tracheotomy to help with breathing, Stephen contracted pneumonia. He could not clear the infection because of the paralysis; his family decided to remove the tracheotomy, and Stephen died.

Hospital workers said that Stephen’s death was inevitable because the injury was permanent at the time it occurred rather than caused by poor handling of a patient with a broken spine. Whether or not they are correct, Stephen certainly suffered a great deal of unnecessary pain due to their lack of care.

References:
Princess of Wales staff did not spot patient’s broken neck
Health board apologises for failings over patient’s death three months after falling in hospital
Hospital staff failed to notice epileptic patient had broken his neck when he fell, inquest told
Health board apologises for failings over patient’s death three months after falling in hospital

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