THE family of a man who died hours after being discharged from the John Radcliffe Hospital are concerned about the decision to let him go home.

Thomas Walker, 29, of Colne Close in Grove, died in his bedroom in the early hours of July 15 last year after being discharged from the Oxford hospital with suspected acute ammonia.

An inquest at Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court yesterday (15) heard that his cause of death was likely a combination of ammonia, hyper ventricular hypertrophy, and cardiac arrhythmia.

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A pathologist noted the arrhythmia could be due to steroids Mr Walker was injecting prior to his death or from the prescribed antibiotics.

His parents, Gary and Kimberley, told the inquest they were concerned about the decision to discharge their son and questioned whether the outcome would have been different if he had stayed in hospital overnight.

The radiological monitor, who worked in Abingdon, was seen by paramedics at home a day before his hospital admission after feeling unwell for about a week.

His girlfriend Tasha called the South Central Ambulance Service who noted Mr Walker could have been suffering from a UTI.

However, the next day it was recommended he go to hospital with symptoms of sweating, aching, feeling hot and having an elevated heart rate.

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After numerous tests including two echocardiograms, he was discharged with antibiotics and told to return the following morning for further examinations.

Cardiologists found high levels of troponin in his blood which could indicate a previous heart attack but these levels were dropping which the medical team said was “reassuring”.

He was advised to stop taking steroids, which he had brought online to help him train for a triathlon, while investigations into his symptoms were ongoing.

The inquest heard his girlfriend had found him the following morning after the hospital confirmed he hadn’t attended his 8am appointment.

Coroner Darren Salter, speaking to cardiologist Dr Faris Al-Refaie during the inquest, said: “If the cause of his death was cardiac arrhythmia do you know what that would look like externally?

“If he had stayed in the hospital could his death have been avoided?”

However, Dr Al-Refaie stated that arrhythmia “doesn’t manifest itself” so if Mr Walker had stayed in hospital it was “unlikely to have saved his life”.

He said: “The only way to detect it is with a monitor. When he was on a monitor in the hospital there was nothing to indicate arrhythmia so if he had stayed he wouldn’t have been on a monitor.

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“It doesn’t mean that his life would have been saved if he was on the monitor either as he would have needed CPR.”

Concluding the inquest, Mr Salter said: “It’s a difficult case with combined causes. It’s all the more tragic that it was very unexpected. It’s something that happens rarely but nevertheless it does happen.”


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This story was written by Gee Harland, she joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing:

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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