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Joe Vernon was admitted to Kent and Canterbury Hospital with a diabetic episode but died hours later after discharging himself


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A young father admitted to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital suffering from a diabetic episode discharged himself and died hours later, an inquest heard.

Joe Vernon, 20, had been at the hospital on the afternoon of May 9 last year and left at about 6pm with the last phone contact with his family later that night.

Frantic family members contacted police who broke into his flat on the Spring Lane Estate on May 11 and found him face down and naked on the floor.

Joe's family say he should not have been allowed to leave the hospital
Joe's family say he should not have been allowed to leave the hospital

The inquest in Margate on Tuesday heard that Joe, who had type 1 diabetes, had suffered diabetic ketoacidosis, which happens when a person has too little insulin in the body.

“He had been given insulin and I recommended that he stay, but he said he wanted to go. He was very reluctant to have any treatment”

He had attended the Northgate Medical Centre where doctors were so concerned about his condition that they arranged for him to be transferred to the K&C.

Nurse Bibi Croft said Joe had been asking for food and drink while being given insulin.

She then said that he wanted to discharge himself.

“I advised him of the risks, but he said he wanted to leave,” Ms Croft said.

“He had been given insulin and I recommended that he stay, but he said he wanted to go. He was very reluctant to have any treatment.”

Asked by coroner Ian Goldup whether there had been any impression Joe might have might have wanted to die, Ms Croft replied: “No.

“He was alert and he was saying he was feeling better. I advised him not to leave.

“I know nothing about his treatment which might have contributed to his death.”

Joe had moved to Canterbury from Hemel Hempstead to be close to his daughter, who is two next month.

Joe’s family has been raising money for diabetes charities since his death
Joe’s family has been raising money for diabetes charities since his death

He had worked as a council cleaner, but was unemployed at the time of his death.

Insp Stuart Norris was among the officers who forced their way into Joe’s flat at Hertford Court, off Warwick Road, on May 11.

“He shouldn’t have been allowed to leave the hospital. We were hoping for answers from the inquest, but didn’t get any”

“There had been concern about his condition and when we got in we found Mr Vernon face down on the floor next to his bed,” the officer said.

“There was nothing suspicious about and nothing which suggested suicide.”

Joe’s sister Kerry Joyce told the hearing she and her family were desperate for answers about how he died.

She said: “I can’t understand what happened. This has been mental torment for us.

“He has been diabetic since he was five and would have taken his insulin.”

Mr Goldup accept a clinical cause of death diabetic ketoacidosis and recorded an open verdict.

He said: “He had no intention of taking his own life and was a happy young man who was looking forward to seeing his daughter.

The inquest recorded an open verdict on Joe's death
The inquest recorded an open verdict on Joe's death

“We don’t know what caused and we don’t know whether there was some mismanagement of his insulin.”

After the hearing, Joe’s sister Laura Vernon said: “He shouldn’t have been allowed to leave the hospital. We were hoping for answers from the inquest, but didn’t get any.”

Since Joe’s death, his family have been raising money for diabetes charities.


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