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Inquest hears Brian Cottom’s rib fractures and collapsed lung initially missed after x-ray

A coroner’s inquest has heard that a York cyclist injured in a collision involving a car died after he was twice sent home from hospital.

Brian Cottom passed away at home eight days after the crash, in which a BMW was involved, on the city’s Malton Road on 3 June 2017. The coroner attributed no fault to the driver of the car.

York Press reports that Mr Cottom was treated at York Hospital’s accident and emergency department for a broken shoulder blade and discharged with his arm in a sling, a supply of analgaesics, and an appointment booked at the hospital’s fracture clinic.

However, two days later a consultant radiologist who was reviewing the x-rays that had been taken when he was admitted noticed that the 56-year-old had also sustained broken ribs and a collapsed lung, injuries that had not been diagnosed initially.

The hospital recalled Mr Cottom where he underwent a CT scan and had a drain put in his chest, before being transferred to the city’s Castle Hill Hospital for specialist chest treatment.

The drain was removed and once more he was discharged, on June 9, but died at home two days later as a result of his wounds becoming infected and adult respiratory distress syndrome.

The York Press says that a report compiled following an investigation by York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust found that when admitted, Mr Cottom’s main concern was pain in his shoulder, and x-rays were undertaken to assess the extent of his injury there.

The report established that the injuries to his ribs were not spotted by a "succession of doctors of different grades of training and experience," until they were noticed by a consultant radiologist two days after his initial admission.

The trust, which said it “sincerely regretted” Mr Cottom’s death, said in the report that is reviewing its chest trauma management policy, as well as how trauma x-rays are reported.

A spokeswoman for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “We take situations such as the events surrounding Mr Cottom’s death extremely seriously and all incidents of this nature are investigated thoroughly to prevent the likelihood of similar incidents happening again.”

“We have shared the findings of our investigation with Mr Cottom’s family and co-operated fully with the coroner. The recommendations made within the report have been implemented.”

Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which manages the Castle Hill Hospital, pointed out that the coroner did not make any criticism of it.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.