On Air Manx Radio Breakfast Ben Hartley & Sian Cowper | 7:30am - 9:30am

Man died after heart stopped at Isle of Man hospital, inquest finds

James Joseph Shimmin died at Noble's Hospital after medics tried to treat breathing problems he developed

Report by BBC Isle of Man

A man's death at Noble's Hospital following routine surgery was caused after a lack of oxygen caused his heart to stop, an inquest has ruled. 

James Joseph Shimmin, 55, died after medics tried to treat breathing problems he developed in February 2021.

Coroner Bernard Richmond KC said it was not possible to say if a breathing tube had been incorrectly placed.

Accusations of manslaughter against four Manx Care anaesthetists involved in his care were dismissed last year.

An inquest heard Mr Shimmin, who had been put under general anaesthetic, began to wake up in the operating theatre after undergoing knee surgery on the morning of 4 February.

A plastic tube was inserted into his throat to help with his breathing and had to be reinserted after those difficulties continued.

The 55-year-old then went into cardiac arrest, and despite efforts to resuscitate him he was pronounced dead later that day.

Post-mortem evidence showed the tube was in the oesophagus, which connects to the stomach, rather than Mr Shimmin's windpipe, the hearing at Douglas Courthouse was told.

However, delivering a narrative verdict, Mr Richmond said he was "not able (to) say" that the tube had been misplaced.

The loss of a data block which contained medical information about Mr Shimmin's treatment in the theatre was a "significant problem", he said.

The inquest had heard conflicting reports from medics about whether liquid that had emerged from the tube was from the stomach or the lungs.

Mr Richmond previously told the hearing an internal investigation into Mr Shimmin's death triggered by the Department of Health and Social Care had caused "lots of difficulty".

The credibility of witnesses had been "damaged" by the various accounts given, he said.

Medics were interviewed as part of the internal investigation and gave accounts to police as part of a separate criminal investigation.

Accusations of gross negligence manslaughter against the four anaesthetists were dropped in April last year.

Giving evidence to the inquest on Monday, Manx Care Chief Executive Teresa Cope said a new policy had been implemented where health officials would speak to the police and the coroner before internal investigations were launched in future.

She told the hearing an external body had reviewed theatres and found them to be safe.

Mr Shimmin's wife Debbie described him as a 'gentle giant' who 'shined a bright light into any room he went in'.

"To describe what I've lost, you need to understand what I've had," she said.

Recording a medical cause of death of cardiac asystole caused by hypoxia, Mr Richmond said the case had been "very difficult".


More from Isle of Man News