Patient ‘Attacked In A Hospital Bed’

A family have criticised a hospital after a man who had already been badly beaten was attacked by a delusional patient. Alcoholic Joseph Nicolas Williams, had been admitted to hospital after being assaulted during a night of drinking with friends.

An inquest heard that in the first attack, Mr Williams, 58, of Llwydarth Road, Maesteg, suffered a “severe amount of trauma” including four fractured ribs, a fracture in his voice box and bruising to his face, eyes and chest.

Detective Inspector Gareth Heatley told Bridgend Coroner’s Court that police had charged Neil Rodgers with the assault and he had been remanded in custody. He said that the police had only taken a brief statement from Mr Williams as he was expected to recover. But he died before a full statement could be taken, and the charges against Mr Rodgers were subsequently dropped.

The inquest heard that another patient who was on medication and was known to hallucinate started to attack Mr Williams in his hospital bed at 10.30am. Mr Williams’ sister Irene Hopcutt, of Maesteg, said: “What happened to Joey in the hospital was disgusting. I was shocked because the ward was bustling with nurses, doctors and cleaners.” After the second assault, Mr Williams’ liver, which was found to have cirrhosis, deteriorated and he died in hospital on December 16, 2005.

Dr Stephen Leadbeatter, of the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, said he found that neither assault had caused Mr Williams’ death. Coroner Phillip Walters recorded a verdict of death by natural causes due to infection with MRSA, liver disease and alcoholic liver disease.

Dr Leadbeatter said Mr Williams’ liver had suddenly deteriorated but on the balance of probabilities, this was most likely caused by a heavy drinking bout. But Mr Williams’ family were not satisfied by the inquest’s decision.

Ms Hopcutt said: “He went downhill after that second attack. We knew he had liver damage but at the end of the day, his life was taken from him sooner. He would have died with his family around him, not they way he did in a hospital bed.”