Hospital staff who refused to resuscitate an elderly woman have been cleared of any wrong-doing.
An inquest – which took years to prepare and lasted more than three weeks – was called to judge whether 91-year-old Kathleen Parkinson died because of medical failings.
Mrs Parkinson, who was known as Kitty, was admitted to Darent Valley Hospital, Dartford, on January 9, 2011 after she collapsed at the home her son and his partner shared in Swanley.
She arrived at around 6.15am, but died just after 7am.
Her son, Gerrard Parkinson, claimed hospital staff did nothing to treat or save his mother. He enlisted a legal team, as well as commissioning his own pathologist, to bring a civil case against the hospital.
The inquest heard that A&E specialist doctor Sameer Hijaz was coming to the last few minutes of his night shift when Mrs Parkinson arrived.
He did not examine her but directed Mrs Parkinson be put on an intravenous drip and given antibiotics. With the wait for somebody to assess his mother, Mr Parkinson became agitated.
Mr Parkinson said to the doctor “is my mother dying?”, to which he replied, “I don’t know, but if she is we can’t do anything to treat her, she’s 91”, the court heard.
Dr Hijaz denied making reference to her age, but it was common knowledge between hospital staff that Mrs Parkinson was not to be resuscitated given her condition, and the doctor had said she was “in the process of dying”.
Despite her age, Mrs Parkinson was said to be active and generally in good health but she had a chest infection the month prior, and did have “fluctuating dementia”, which was not always noticeable.
Three pathologists were enlisted and gave slightly different findings, but the coroner accepted the primary cause of death as bronchopneumonia.
During the inquest at Gravesend’s Old Town Hall, coroner Roger Hatch said: “The death of Kathleen Parkinson was due to natural causes. I am satisfied that any treatment that could have been administered to her in the short time she was at Darent Valley Hospital would have been ineffective, given the advanced state of dying that she was in.”
Solicitors Penningtons Manches, employed by the family, said they were considering applying to the Attorney General for a judicial review.