Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Private Hospital Is Warned after Aristocrat's Death

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Private Hospital Is Warned after Aristocrat's Death

Article excerpt


A CORONER called on a private London hospital today to review its emergency cover procedures following the death of Scottish aristocrat Lady Mariota Napier after a routine operation.

Dr Paul Knapman also said he would be writing to Health Secretary Alan Milburn to make sure the National Care Standards Commission due to be set up in April will enforce rules on levels of specialist consultant cover in private hospitals.

In recording a verdict of misadventure in the case, Dr Knapman expressed doubts over whether the levels of cover at the hospital were adequate in an emergency.

Lady Mariota, 56, died on 25 May following a gall bladder operation at the London Clinic in Marylebone when an undiagnosed duodenal ulcer burst.

Her husband Captain Malcolm Napier told Westminster Coroner's Court that she was left in "excruciating pain" for more than three hours while surgeon Donal Shanahan was working at another private hospital in Ilford.

Dr Shanahan told the inquest he had been contactable at all times and insisted that Lady Mariota had been properly monitored by nursing and other doctors in his absence.

However, Dr Knapman said today that with the benefit of hindsight and in the best hospital unit one would wish for, a registrar specialised and practised in the diagnosis of surgical complications would have assessed her and would have been able to call on his consultant to be at the bedside to further evaluate the matter and perhaps move the patient to an intensive care unit.

He added: "The story we've heard is not like that. We've heard a story rather more hands-off.

"I shall be writing to the chief executive of the London Clinic suggesting to him that he consider the establishment of more clear and more formal procedures for specialist cover in the event of sudden and unexpected emergency. …

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