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Hospital death inquest granted

Posted in: Medical Negligence Wrongful & Accidental Death 

Almost a year after the death of a disabled man who died in a routine operation, his family have been informed that they can have an inquest.  51-year-old Timothy Cowen from Caergwrle, Flintshire, died last May following a gall bladder operation.  After the family was informed of the cause of death, an independent post mortem examination found this to be incorrect.  Betsi Cadwaladr health board apologised to Mr Cowen’s family for the delay in the investigation and for not keeping them rightly informed.

Mr Cowen suffered with many medical conditions which led to him being quite seriously disabled.  He was unable to walk or swallow, and had to be fed through a tube directly into his stomach. His family was initially provided with a death certificate that stated his cause of death to be aspirational pneumonia suffered due to cerebral palsy.

“What happened to my brother … will be made public”

However, the family of Mr Cowen was not aware that he did suffer from cerebral palsy and requested an independent post mortem examination at the Countess of Chester Hospital.  It found his cause of death to be bilateral extensive pneumonia. 

The health board held an inquiry, which led to a Root Cause Analysis (RCA) investigation. This investigated the circumstances leading up to the death of Mr Cowen.  The findings cannot be published until the inquest.

Mr Cowen’s brother, Philip Cowen, said: “We are pleased that [coroner] Mr [John] Gittins is now able to hold the inquest and so what happened to my brother in the days before he died will be made public.

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