Inquiry launched after missing patient found dead

AN investigation has been launched after a patient went missing from a hospital emergency department for three hours before being found dead in another part of the premises.

Roddy Ashworth

AN investigation has been launched after a patient went missing from a hospital emergency department for three hours before being found dead in another part of the premises.

The man, believed to be from the Tendring area, was admitted to Colchester General Hospital with breathing problems on the morning of Saturday September 12.

He was transferred to the emergency assessment unit but at about 3.30am the next day it was noticed he had disappeared, around two hours after he had last been checked by medics.

Later, at around 6.45am, his dead body was discovered in the outpatients department of the hospital by a member of staff arriving for work.

The death of the man, who is thought to have been in his 50s, is not being treated as suspicious.

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The hospital said a full investigation was being carried out as to how the man had gone missing and how he had subsequently died.

Last night a spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, which runs both Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital, said that the matter had been referred to the trust's board as a serious untoward incident and a full report would be compiled.

The man's next- of-kin were informed as soon as he went missing and the trust was keeping in touch with them as the inquiry continued, he said.

A statement issued last night to the EADT on behalf of the trust said: “An internal investigation is continuing after the body of a patient who had gone missing was found at Colchester General Hospital at 6.45am on Sunday September 13.

“At 3.40am, staff on the Emergency Assessment Unit could not locate the man, who had been transferred there from the Accident and Emergency Department at 1am.

“The hospital's security staff were alerted and began a search.

At 3.50am, police were notified and at 4.10am his next-of-kin were alerted.

“The man's body was discovered on the floor of the main outpatients' department by a member of staff arriving for work.

“The police and next-of-kin were immediately notified.

“The trust launched an immediate investigation, has notified NHS North East Essex, is co-operating fully with police and is keeping next-of-kin fully informed.

“Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust wishes to express its sympathy and condolences to the family and friends of the patient.''

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