Inquest continues into Barnet Hospital death

By Dave Speck in Local People

A SENIOR intensive care doctor from Barnet Hospital has admitted that monitoring was not carried out properly on a woman who died after developing internal bleeding.

Koula Christou, 53, from Park Road, New Barnet, died on January 27 last year, while she was a patient at the hospital on Wellhouse Lane, High Barnet.

Consultant intensivist Dr Tony Wolff, while giving evidence at the inquest into her death, said the monitoring of her blood pressure “had not been ideal” due to technical issues such as, possibly, an arterial line having a kink in it or a canula having a clot in it.

But he said: “The nurse would have thought Miss Christou looks fine and she is sitting there talking. It’s the reality of how things are sometimes.”

He added: “There finally comes a point where the nurse asks the doctor to put in a new arterial line because the current one isn’t working.”

Acting for the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, George Hugh-Jones QC said that, in circumstances when there was a kink in the arterial line, the "mean" blood pressure would have been measured by means of a “flat line” on the monitor screen, and asked Dr Wolff whether this could still be reliable, to which he replied “yes.”

Solicitor Andrew Dawson, acting for The London Ambulance Service, asked why, that night, there had been a half-hour gap between Miss Christou collapsing and a decision being taken to refer her for surgery.

Dr Wolff said he had been at home when he received a phone call to say she had collapsed and that his first thoughts would have been on immediate life-saving proceedures such as resuscitation in the event of a cardiac arrest.

He said: “I can’t remmeber what I recommended at that time. I’m at home. I get an average of five to six call calls a night.”

Her Majesty’s senior coroner Andrew Walker will hear from more witnesses this week, and is expected to reach his conclusion by Friday into the cause of Miss Christou’s death and under what circumstances she died.

Barrister Edward Ramsey is acting for Miss Christou’s family.

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