The Inquest into the death of 27-year-old professional rugby union player Ian Michael Williams at the Doncaster Coroner’s Court, in which a verdict was due on 31 January 2020, has been adjourned until 17 February 2020.
The evidence heard at the Inquest was that the doctor who saw Ian on 15 February 2018 at the Emergency Department at Doncaster Royal Infirmary was told Ian was a 27-year-old professional rugby player and had been diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve during his teenage years. Despite his limited knowledge of the condition, the doctor did not obtain a detailed past medical history from Ian in relation to his condition and cardiac follow-up.
The doctor’s evidence was that he was concerned Ian was suffering from angina secondary to aortic valve stenosis, as he was aware that patients with a bicuspid aortic valve could develop narrowing of the heart valves. Ian’s symptoms were discussed with a senior doctor but what was actually discussed was not documented. The senior doctor did not examine Ian - he simply relied on the information provided by the junior doctor and reviewed an ECG that was performed at the hospital.
On discharge no clear diagnosis was confirmed or documented in the discharge summary. Ian was allegedly advised to avoid physical exertion, but this was not documented in the discharge summary or his hospital records, and the potentially life-threatening consequences of failing to avoid physical exertion were not explained to Ian.
The evidence of the coroner’s expert in emergency medicine was that angina secondary to aortic valve stenosis would be unusual in any patient, regardless of their age, and admission to hospital would be mandatory. He confirmed that the medical options to treat patients with such a condition are limited and the most effective way to do so is by way of a valve replacement. His evidence was that discharging a patient when such a condition is suspected would constitute a seriously gross failure of care. The Inquest has been adjourned for the coroner’s expert in cardiology to give evidence in person.
Pictured above: Ian Williams, the deceased.
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