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Inquest told retired detective inspector died after being given medication that caused ‘massive’ internal bleed and not Covid-19, as hospital claimed

the family of andy kirby were represented at inquest by hudgell solicitors
7 min read time

An inquest has heard a retired police detective inspector did not die of Covid-19 as a hospital claimed, but of a “massive” internal bleed after being prescribed medication he had previously had an adverse reaction to.

69-year-old Andy Kirby died on Christmas Eve 2020 at Hull Royal Infirmary days after initially being diagnosed with a blood clot.

He had been prescribed anticoagulant medication, despite his medical records showing he had previously had an abdominal bleed after taking the drug several years earlier.

Before his death, concerns had been raised by medical staff that the medication had once again caused internal bleeding and they were stopped, but after another doctor once again prescribed them, Mr Kirby died hours later.

His partner Kathy, who was unable to visit him due to lockdown restrictions, said, “had communications between the hospital and his family been better it was entirely possible that a discussion could have taken place about his medication and we could have raised concerns, highlighting what had happened when he’d been given them previously.”

 No evidence he had contracted Covid-19

A three-day inquest held at Hull Coroners Court in May 2023 was told the hospital at first attributed Mr Kirby’s death to Covid-19, something his family did not accept as he’d had six tests administered during his stays, which had all been recorded as negative.

Solicitor Caroline Murgatroyd of Hudgell Solicitors, an expert in medical negligence cases, who represents Mr Kirby’s family, said only after insisting on further investigations was an autopsy carried out.

The post-mortem revealed he had died of a “massive gastrointestinal bleed” and there was no evidence he had contracted Covid-19.

Speaking on the day of the Coroner’s verdict on Wednesday, 14th June 2023 Ms Murgatroyd said:

“But for the family’s determination to find out what happened to Andy, it is likely that his death would have been attributed to Covid and the true facts as to how and why he died would not have come to light.”

His partner Kathy said the Inquest had been important in uncovering the truth, “We felt strongly that being told Covid-19 was the cause of death was nonsense.

“When we were told Covid was being put on the death certificate we knew we couldn’t accept it and we were prepared to fight for the truth to honour Andy.”

Mr Kirby joined Humberside Police in the late 1970s and served in Scunthorpe and Bridlington before finally ending his career as a Detective Inspector with responsibility for Scientific Support.

During this time, he was called out to numerous sudden deaths and provided the forensic and scientific assistance to ensure that families received answers as to why and how their loved ones had died and, in cases of murder and manslaughter say his family, gathered evidence to ensure justice was done.

His daughter Andrea and son Jamie Kirby said, “We could not accept the hospital recording his death as from Covid-19 and we were not prepared to do less for him than he had done for others in his professional life.

“We were compelled to find out precisely why and how he had died and to get the answers we needed in order to finally say our goodbyes.”

His condition continued to deteriorate

Before his death, Mr Kirby had been diagnosed with lung cancer and underwent a lung biopsy on December 9th, 2020, at Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham.

During the procedure he suffered a pneumothorax, where air accumulates inside the chest and can cause the lung to collapse and was sent to Hull Royal Infirmary on the same day for treatment. He remained there for several days and due to his extended stay and immobility was prescribed anticoagulants to prevent blood clots before being discharged home.

Medication was restarted by a different doctor

However, on December 20th, 2023, Mr Kirby was readmitted with abdominal pain and shortness of breath.

Tests for Covid-19 were negative, and he was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism – a blood clot that blocks blood flow to an artery in the lung. He was then prescribed more anticoagulants, but his condition continued to deteriorate and he developed blood in his urine and dried blood was noted in his mouth.

His medical records noted that a decision was then made to stop his anticoagulants due to concerns they were the cause of internal bleeding. However, on December 23rd the anticoagulant medication was restarted by a different doctor and Mr Kirby died a few hours later in the early hours of Christmas Eve.

The inquest was told Mr Kirby had previously had an adverse reaction to anticoagulants in 2013 when he suffered an abdominal bleed after being given the drug Warfarin. His family believe he would not have died but for the restarting of the anticoagulant.

‘The acute and significant gastrointestinal bleed was causative’

At the inquest today HM Assistant Coroner Mr Ian Sprakes recorded a narrative conclusion and said:

“On the 22nd of December 2020 it was noted that he had developed frank haematuria, haemoptysis, blood in sputum, and was noted to have dried blood around his mouth.

“The anticoagulation medication was stopped in response to this and concern about over anticoagulation.

“His condition deteriorated on the 22nd of December 2020 he developed hypovolaemic shock, low blood pressure, reduction in haemoglobin levels, and his inflammatory markers remained grossly abnormal.

“On the 23rd of December 2020 his anticoagulation medication was recommenced, and he went on to develop a significant and acute gastrointestinal bleed acutely and proximate to his death and, which in all probability, occurred due to the recommencement of the anticoagulation medication.

“The acute and significant gastrointestinal bleed was causative of Andrew Kirby’s death.”

While a serving police officer Andy Kirby had travelled to Russia in 1999 as part of a UK Government taskforce to exhume bodies that were thought to be crew from the ill -fated Gaul trawler which had been lost with all 36 hands in 1974 after sailing from Hull.

A second expedition, this time to the Gaul itself, took place in 2002 to recover the remains of the crew and Mr Kirby ensured their respectful treatment and subsequent identification, where this was possible.

Following the inquest verdict his family said, “It was Andy’s relentless pursuit of the truth, when a death occurred, and his desire to bring families the answers they needed, that has led his family to today’s outcome.

“He himself would have not wanted to have caused a fuss, but we believed he deserved to have the all the facts established about how and why he died. There were many questions to be answered and we feel the inquest has established what really happened to him as he lay alone in hospital.

“Our thanks today go to our solicitor Caroline Murgatroyd of Hudgell Solicitors, our Barrister Matthew Turner and the Coroner for enabling us to get the answers we needed in order to finally say our goodbyes to the kind, humorous, man we knew and loved.”

The family also wished to thank the Macmillan Cancer Support nurses based at Castle Hill Hospital for their support following Mr Kirby’s cancer diagnosis.

Read family’s full tribute to Andy Kirby.

Making a Medical Inquest Claim

By law, you do not need to be legally represented at an inquest. In fact, it is the Government’s view that this process is an inquisitorial process which should focus on determining how the deceased came to die and nothing more.

In reality, the organisation or NHS trust which provided treatment will often be represented by a highly-qualified lawyer making it even more important to seek legal support and advice through this time.

If you have questions about how your loved one died and you want to be fully involved in the inquest, it’s a good idea to be represented by a legal expert with detailed inquest knowledge.

Read more: Medical Inquests

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