Man died after a fall at his home

By Adrian Darbyshire in Local People

An inquest in Douglas has heard a man died in Noble’s hospital after being admitted with neck injuries sustained in a fall at his home.

The inquest, presided over by coroner John Needham, will resume this afternoon (Wednesday) after hearing evidence last week from hospital staff.

The court was told 72-year-old Thomas Gibson fell down the stairs at the house he shared with his sister on Quarterbridge Road in January 2016.

He was alone in the house at the time and used his mobile telephone to call a friend.

An ambulance took him to Noble’s Hospital where a CT scan revealed fractures to vertebrae in his neck. He was fitted with a support collar and admitted initially to the intensive care unit.

Though the fractures were assessed to be stable, the court was told this was a precaution to allow for close observation as he had suffered a large fall in blood pressure when first admitted.

However, soon after being transferred out of intensive care to ward 11, he suffered a sudden and dramatic deterioration. Hospital staff placed him on a ventilator but he contracted pneumonia and died on January 23, 11 days after being admitted.

Carol Martin, a nurse on ward 11, told the court Mr Gibson was transferred to the ward on January 14. She told the court he was sitting in bed and wearing a Philadelphia neck collar which offered support but was less uncomfortable than the standard collars fitted at an accident scene by paramedics.

Because Mr Gibson seemed agitated, she went away for 10 minutes to seek advice from the senior house officer. Other staff had visited the room while she was away, she said, but she returned to find Mr Gibson sitting on the edge of the bed.

’As he had already got out of bed, it seemed safer for him to sit in the chair,’ she said.

She told the court Mr Gibson was able to stand unaided but was wobbly and seemed slightly unco-ordinated but had full strength in his arms.

But moments later, he lost the power of movement in one arm and, a short time later, collapsed, having to be resuscitated by doctors.

Mrs Martin said there was no evidence of him having fallen nor had he removed his collar.

The court heard evidence that Mr Gibson’s deterioration had been sudden and rapid.

Dr Ross Barker, consultant in orthopaedic surgery told the hearing a sudden fall in blood pressure can disrupt supply to the spinal cord, but the precise cause of the deterioration was not clear.

The court heard Mr Gibson, who had worked for Jaguar cars and lived in Manchester and America before moving to the island, died on January 23. The hearing resumes tomorrow.