Coroner can request heart attack inquest

SUFFOLK coroner Dr Peter Dean could call an inquest if there were concerns about the death of a patient travelling to hospital for urgent heart attack treatment, he told The Evening Star today.

SUFFOLK coroner Dr Peter Dean could call an inquest if there were concerns about the death of a patient travelling to hospital for urgent heart attack treatment, he told The Evening Star today.

Dr Dean was commenting as concern rises about proposals to send people suffering from emergency heart attacks to centres at Papworth, Norwich or Basildon rather than treating them at Ipswich.

The situation was highlighted last month after a patient died while being taken from Ipswich to Papworth after suffering a heart attack at home.

He was treated under the current regime, where patients who have suffered a certain kind of heart attack, called a STEMI heart attack, are given clot-busting drugs at Ipswich, rather than proposed system of taking them to a larger centre.

And the victim's family had no concerns about the way Ipswich hospital or the ambulance service dealt with him.

However Dr Dean said he could call an inquest into any death if either a family or medical staff expressed concern about treatment.

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He said: “If there was a concern about the length of time it took to take a patient to one of these specialist centres then it could be that an inquest was held - even if it was clear that the death was caused by a heart attack.

“Normally such a request would have to come from the family or medical staff and I would then have to consider whether it was suitable to hold an inquest.”

However he added that it must be acknowledged that with health issues like this it is necessary to be aware that resources are not infinite.

Dr Dean said: “There will always be some people who live further away from a specialist centre and any coroner would have to take that into account when conducting an inquest,” he said.