South Molton man died following North Devon District Hospital misadventure
COMPLICATIONS on the operating table led to the death of a man having surgery to fix a blocked artery.
Henry Searle, of High Winds, South Molton, was 80 when his GP discovered in May last year that one of his arteries was 60 to 65 per cent blocked.
Mr Searle was at a 20 per cent risk of having a stroke. He was referred to a vascular surgeon and underwent a carotid endarterectomy on May 30, 2012 to widen his arteries.
But the operation led to complications and, despite going into surgery at 9am, Mr Searle was still in theatre at 4pm.
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Problems arose when surgeon David Williams tried to detect blood flow in Mr Searle's artery after the first attempt to unblock it.
No blood flow was detected and Mr Searle, who had previously been under local anaesthetic, was given a general anaesthetic because he had become agitated.
His artery was once again re-opened but after the procedure there was still no blood flow detected.
So a second surgeon, John Taylor, was called to the theatre to give a second opinion.
Dr Williams said: "Mr Taylor suggested using a new probe as they can be damaged by sterilisation."
After using a new Doppler probe blood flow was detected.
But Mr Searle had lost a significant amount of blood and required a transfusion.
After the operation he was transferred to the intensive care unit for 48 hours.
But he did not recover and died at home on June 24.
At the inquest into his death, coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland said there needed to be an investigation carried out into the Doppler probes used during Mr Searle's operation.
She added: "Mr Searle suffered a 60 to 65 per cent stenosis of the carotid artery and underwent a non urgent procedure on May 30 at North Devon District Hospital which led to complications, the consequences of which caused his death.
"I am satisfied he would not have died had it not been for the operation."
A verdict of misadventure was recorded and Dr Earland said she would be writing a rule 43 letter to the Royal College of Surgeons regarding the Doppler probes.
Jim Bray, North Devon District Hospital spokesman, said: "The healthcare trust regrets Mr Searle's death and we have offered our condolences to his family. The verdict of misadventure indicates this was an unintended outcome of planned surgery.
"The trust has already investigated the Doppler probe matter and no issue was found – nor did this have any bearing on Mr Searle's outcome.
"However, as the coroner has recommended that this be reviewed, the trust will revisit this in order to provide a formal response.
"Unfortunately, carotid surgery does carry a risk of the complications Mr Searle suffered, for any patient having this surgery."