19 Jun 2013

Hernia patient's death 'preventable'

8:42 pm on 19 June 2013

A coroner has ruled a Wellington man may have survived his hernia treatment if he had been fitted with a nasogastric tube.

Melvyn Bedford died in Wellington Hospital in May 2012 complications following surgery.

Coroner Ian Smith said on Wednesday he is surprised that the 61-year-old was allowed to refuse a nasogastric tube which he said could have saved his life.

Mr Smith said Mr Bedford suffered from korsakoffs dementia, an alcohol-induced amnesiac disorder, and was unable to make his own decisions.

He said it was therefore within the medical staff's right to forcibly insert the tube without Mr Bedford's consent and, if they had, the operation might have been successful.

Mr Bedford's health worsened following surgery and he was moved to the Intensive Care Unit where he died from inflamed lung tissue due to the hernia.

A health law specialist supports the Coroner's finding. Jonathan Coates said if Mr Bedford was competent, staff would have been bound by his refusal of a nasogastric tube - but if not, they had the right to override him.