Man's fatal bowel condition treated with anti-nausea medication

12:00 pm on 1 October 2019

An Otago man who died from a bowel obstruction could have survived with better medical care, a coroner has concluded.

Seventy-three-year-old John Douglas Mitchell from Owaka died from aspirational pneumonia, septicaemia and bowel obstruction in November 2016, two days after he went to an after-hours GP.

He had abdominal pain, vomiting, and hadn't eaten or been to the toilet in two days, but the doctor didn't perform an abdominal exam and instead sent Mr Mitchell home with anti-nausea medication.

Coroner David Robinson said had the GP, Dr Nico van Egmond, performed the abdominal examination a large hernia would have been found.

"...which should have prompted consideration of a bowel obstruction due to incarcerated bowel within the hernia, and urgent admission to hospital."

Dr van Egmond accepted that evidence.

" would have changed my management and could have helped prevent this fatal sequence of events".

Mr Robinson said while he couldn't definitely say the death would have been prevented, the care provided to Mr Mitchell was not good enough and the opportunity for intervention was lost.