10 Dec 2009

'Overcrowding' contributed to hospital death

10:01 pm on 10 December 2009

A specialist at Christchurch Hospital's emergency department says overcrowding contributed to the death of a man in 2007.

Dean Carroll, 25, was treated for back pain and sent home, where he died from a spinal infection 12 hours later.

Michael Ardagh told the coroner at the inquest into Mr Carroll's death that there were about 70 patients and only 30 beds the night he sought help.

He said Mr Carroll was not seen quickly enough, the junior doctor who examined him was rushed and the consultants overseeing that doctor were busy with other patients.

But he says Mr Carroll's condition - an abscess and sepsis - was rare, and it's likely a consultant would have reached the same diagnosis as the junior doctor, namely, mechanical back pain.