Patient dying of thirst rang 999: Inquest hears of mother’s fury at nurses who neglected son
Nurses forgot to give Kane Gorny his medication and he became so delirious he called 999His mother said she spent hours trying to convince staff he needed attention but was told he was alrightAlarm finally raised an hour before his death when a doctor realised how serious his condition was
A young patient who died of dehydration at a leading teaching hospital phoned police from his bed because he was so thirsty, an inquest heard yesterday.
Officers arrived at Kane Gorny’s bedside, but were told by nurses that he was in a confused state and were sent away.
The keen footballer and runner, 22, died of dehydration a few hours later.
Hospital: Kane Gorny, 22, pictured with his mother Rita, needed drugs to regulate his hormone levels after successfully beating brain cancer. However, during a hospital stay nurses forgot to give him his medication
A coroner had such grave concerns about the case that she referred it to police.
Yesterday an inquest was told how Mr
Gorny died after blunders and neglect by ‘lazy and careless’ medical
staff at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, South London.
His mother Rita Cronin, a civil
servant told Westminster Coroner’s Court that staff tutted at her and
repeatedly refused to listen to her concerns that her son hadn’t been
given vital medication.
At one point he became so desperate
and upset that staff sedated and restrained him – and on the night
before his death, his mother said, he was not checked on by medical
staff, despite being in a room on his own.
Following his death, a nurse allegedly
inquired whether the family, from Balham, South-West London, was
‘finished’ and asked a matron in front of them whether she could ‘bag
Mr Gorny, who worked in Waitrose and
was training to be a locksmith and shoe repairer, had survived a
malignant brain tumour in 2008.
Inquest: Rita Cronin, left, and Kane’s father Peter Gorny arriving at their son’s inquest. Rita told the court she had tried to convince the staff at the hospital her son needed urgent attention but they insisted he was alright
The cancer affected his pituitary
gland, which controls the body’s mechanisms, such as fluid levels. Part
of his treatment included a course of steroids to regulate the fluid
levels in his body. These drugs, however, weakened his bones and he was
in hospital for a routine hip replacement.
Doctors told him that, without regular medication to control his fluid levels, he would die.
When he arrived at hospital for the
hip operation, nurses assured the family they would give him his
medication and said: ‘Don’t worry, he’s in good hands – we’ll look after
But, despite the repeated reminders
and insistence by both Mr Gorny and his family, staff failed to give him
the tablets and he became severely dehydrated after being refused
In an interview with the Daily Mail in
2010, Miss Cronin said of the nurses who treated him: ‘They were lazy,
careless and hadn’t bothered to check his charts and see his medication
was essential. He was totally dependent on the nurses to help him and
they totally betrayed him.’
Yesterday Miss Cronin told the inquest
she received a distressed phone call from her son on May 27, 2009, in
which he told her he’d called the police because he was so desperate for
Help: Police raced to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London (pictured) but were turned away by staff
She then went to the hospital where
she found him ‘confused and angry’, shouting at staff and behaving in an
uncharacteristically abusive manner.
Despite this, one doctor asked if he
was ‘coming off the booze’ and another asked if he was ‘always like
this’. Miss Cronin said: ‘He sounded really, really distressed. He said
“They won’t give me anything to drink”. ‘He also said “I’ve called the
police. You better get here quickly: they’re all standing around the bed
getting their stories straight”.’
When Miss Cronin arrived, she
recalled: ‘They weren’t doing anything. They seemed out of their depth.
It felt like the two locum doctors were nervous about calling anyone
more senior than them.’
The inquest heard Mr Gorny was
restrained by security guards and sedated with strong medication to calm
him down. Later, he was put into a side room and left alone.
Miss Cronin said she sat in his room
for three hours the night before he died without a single nurse checking
on him or giving him vital medicine.
‘He was starting to enjoy his life
again, even though he had pains in his hip.’
Kane’s mother Rita Cronin
She said she told a nurse who walked
past the room that Mr Gorny had not had his medication. When Miss
Cronin volunteered to return to the hospital should he wake, another
nurse allegedly told her: ‘You don’t need to do that. If he makes noise,
I’ll close the door and then he won’t wake everyone up.’
She added: ‘I later realised that her comment was unbelievable but I was so distraught that it didn’t register.’
The morning of her son’s death, May
28, 2009, Miss Cronin arrived at the hospital early to find him
delirious with swollen lips and a swollen tongue.
She recalled: ‘I then heard three
nurses outside his room and I said: “There’s something wrong with my
son. He doesn’t look right.”
‘The nurse said to me “He had a good night. There’s nothing wrong with him and he’s just had breakfast and a chat with us.”
‘I thought: “How could he have had breakfast There’s no evidence (of breakfast).”
‘The nurse carried on her handover then I interrupted again and said: “He’s not right.”
‘The other nurse then tutted and said:
“She’s already told you he had a good night.” And with that the three
of them walked off.’
Miss Cronin said she then noticed that
her son hadn’t been given his medication because the packet was still
on the table by his bed.
She told the locum doctor about her concerns, but the doctor said it wouldn’t do him any harm.
A doctor doing the rounds then checked
on Mr Gorny. Miss Cronin said: ‘He took one look at him then he started
calling to everyone “Get in there quickly”.
‘It suddenly dawned on me he hasn’t
had his medication, hasn’t had his bloods done, nobody’s given him a
drink, nobody’s bothered to put his drip back on him.
‘Nobody’s done anything since yesterday afternoon when he became aggressive.’
She said there was a ‘flurry of
activity’ and everyone ‘had a very sad look on their face’ as they
battled to save her son’s life. Miss Cronin said: ‘The main doctor came
out and you could tell he was really angry. He said: “You need to go and
see your son. He’s dying.”
The couple then found their son lying
in blood and fluid-soaked sheets and a nurse came in and asked them to
help her to change them. The same nurse later came into the matron’s
office and asked whether they were ‘finished’, adding: ‘Can I bag him
The death certificate said Mr Gorny died of a ‘water deficit’ and ‘hypernatraemia’ – a medical term for dehydration.
Mr Gorny had radiotherapy and
chemotherapy following his diagnosis of brain cancer. He was eventually
given the all-clear and led a normal life until his mother noticed he
was having trouble with his hip.
As he waited for the surgery, his life started to return to normal.
‘He was out and about like everybody else,’ said Miss Cronin yesterday.
‘I always used to make him take his
tablets for the next morning, just in case he stayed at a friend’s house
– and he knew the importance of his medication. We all did.
‘He was starting to enjoy his life
again, even though he had pains in his hip. He was upset he was having a
hip replacement – he was worried he would be in a wheelchair when he
Nurses at the hospital were said to have been offered counselling as a result of Mr Gorny’s death.
The inquest continues. The case is still being considered by the Crown Prosecution Service.