Father was dying in GP surgery but staff did not tell his wife

Father-of-two, 50, was dying from cardiac arrest at his local GP surgery while staff did not tell his wife who was sitting in waiting room next door

  • David Currie was in the Peterborough doctor’s surgery for more than two hours
  • The 50-year-old was taken to hospital but died from acute left ventricular failure
  • His wife Caroline Currie was waiting in the surgery but was not told he was dying

A father-of-two sat dying in a GP surgery while his wife was in the waiting room – unaware he was in cardiac arrest.

David Currie, 50, died in hospital after hours of deteriorating at Fletton Surgery in Peterborough where nurses failed to pick up he was in need of urgent care.

David’s Wife Caroline, 39 said she arrived at the surgery and witnessed medics ‘running around with defibrillators’ but that no one told her that her husband was dying.

An inquest into his death has heard how David, the father of young twins, went to the GP on October 3, feeling unwell, and nurses suspected gastroenteritis.

A non-emergency ambulance was called and Caroline was called to bring new clothes after a ‘diarrhoea accident’.

But more than two and a half hours after he first arrive at the surgery, an emergency ambulance was called when he became pale and breathless.

Caroline Currie with husband David and twins Harriet and Eleanor. David went into the GP surgery but nurses did not spot his heart problem immediately 

Paramedics arrived and gave CPR to David at 1.40pm, after David arrived at the surgery and became ill.

He was rushed to Peterborough City Hospital with a defibrillator connected to him where he was declared dead at 3pm.

Caroline, who will give evidence later in the hearing previously said that when she arrived and sat in the waiting room she had no idea that her husband was dying.

Surgery nurses say that David had not shown signs of cardiac arrest, despite his claims that he had chest pain through the night.

On duty Nurse Claire Stilgrove told the hearing at Huntingdon Coroner’s Court that: ‘At no point during the time I saw him that day did he complain of chest pain or shortage of breath.’


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She said that had he shown chest pains on the phone on the morning of Oct 3 or at any moment in the surgery, an emergency ambulance would have been called for.

She added: ‘If he had told me he was experiencing chest pain that morning we would have called for an ambulance straight away.

‘When he phoned that morning he also did not have chest pains.’

Ms Stilgrove said that she was ‘able to exclude a cardiac arrest’ when discussing his illness over the phone that morning. 

The inquest heard Mr Currie’s symptoms were ‘severe back pain’ and ‘dizziness’. At the reception he said that was feeling ‘unwell’ as he ‘leaned over the reception desk’ with ‘his ‘head down’.

Shortly after, he was found by nurses sitting on the floor of the bathroom having vomited.

He was put in a wheechair by nurses and taken to treatment room where observations were made and a ‘non urgent ambulance was called’ to arrive in the hour.

Ms Stilgrove, who began monitoring him intermittently said: ‘He appeared like a patient that had gastroenteritis. He was talking to me, he was sitting up and he was walking around.’

David Currie, 50, died of heart failure after spending more than two-and-a-half hours in the GP’s surgery as his wife sat outside 

The inquest heard how David made repeated trips to the loo from the observation room but Ms Stilgrove reiterated that he showed no signs of developing cardiac arrest.

On his final trip to the bathroom she checked on him and added: ‘He was as well as someone with gastroenteritis could appear. He was not short of breath, he was not pale, he was not clammy.

‘He was a little off colour he was a little tired perhaps.’

David was said to ‘deteriorate quickly’ after after returning to the observation room and making a call while the nurse was out.

Ms Stilgrove added: ‘I heard him talking. I heard him talking on the phone and I gave him privacy before I returned to the room.’

‘When I returned he asked to lie down and he lay on the couch and at first he was fine but then he started to go pale and was breathless.

‘This is where it became clear.’

A post mortem concluded that David died of acute left ventricular failure which was only aided by gastroenteritis.

The inquest listed for two days continues. 

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