Tragedy of St Albans bleach death man
PUBLISHED: 22:00 21 July 2015
A surgeon who tried in vain to save the life of a St Albans man who had drunk bleach was told at an inquest that he simply “could not perform a miracle”.
Arthur Lloyd, 75, of Park Street Lane, died at Watford General Hospital on March 25 last year.
Herts Coroner Edward Thomas told an inquest last Wednesday, which was attended by 20 people, that it was clear from written information provided by those who knew Mr Lloyd best that he was “adored by his family, and he adored them back.
“They are devastated by his death. He was a lovely man.”
Referring to a statement provided by paramedics who initially treated Mr Lloyd when an ambulance was called to his home on March 4 last year, Mr Thomas said that he had indicated his wish to die.
Mr Lloyd vomited upon arrival at the accident and emergency ward, and deteriorated rapidly at hospital.
A tiny video camera was used to help doctors assess the extent of damage to his throat and gullet.
Surgeon Mr Ahmed Al-Bahrani, whose specialty areas include upper gastrointestinal surgery, told the inquest that Mr Lloyd’s stomach showed signs of necrosis - the death of most or all cells in tissue or an organ - because of the corrosive effect of the bleach ingestion.
Mr Al-Bahrani added: “His stomach was disintegrating. He was critically unwell.”
Dead tissue was removed during one of three operative procedures, and a feeding tube was inserted.
Mr Thomas told the inquest that the surgery had been undertaken in an effort to save Mr Lloyd, but he suffered “multiple-organ failure due to complications arising from bleach ingestion, related to sepsis”.
Addressing Mr Al-Bahrani, Mr Lloyd’s widow, Ann, said: “While he was in intensive care, we were very happy with the treatment and they [staff] kept us fully informed.
“[Unfortunately] you couldn’t perform the miracle we wanted.”
One of Mr Lloyd’s family asked the surgeon whether he would have had a better chance of surviving had he chosen a different brand of bleach, or had not vomited.
Mr Al-Bahrani replied: “It is very difficult to answer that. We try to remove as much bleach as possible … bleach digests the stomach.”
He expressed his sincere condolences to the family.
Mr Lloyd’s longstanding GP, Dr Julian Godlee, told the inquest his patient was a “lovely man; stoical and accepting that his body was not as fit as it used to be.”
The inquest was told that Mr Lloyd had been suffering constant pain and although he had undergone hip replacements, he was “disabled by his various joints”.
He was grief-stricken, too, following “two significant family tragedies” in the space of a month, including the death of a daughter from melanoma.
Dr Godlee, who had been away on a six-month sabbatical prior to Mr Lloyd’s death, said: I’m very, very sad I wasn’t there when he needed me.”
While he was away, Mr Lloyd was seen by Dr Kathryn Mann, who was working as a locum at the Maltings Surgery from 2013-2014.
She told the inquest that Mr Lloyd had been suffering from depression “for some time” and was having panic attacks.
Dr Mann added: “He appeared very anxious to me and he was frustrated about a lack of sleep.”
Mr Lloyd had spoken, though, of his supportive family.
Because Dr Mann felt he needed to see a psychiatrist, she contacted the Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team.
A member of a local outreach team told the inquest that upon receiving a referral for Mr Lloyd in February last year, he was seen for depression and anxiety, and a change was made to his medication.
Mr Thomas ruled that Mr Lloyd took his own life because he was suffering from a recurrent depressive disorder.