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Patient was 'left next to a corpse' in bed at Watford General
A patient at Watford General Hospital has expressed his horror after facing a night in a bed next to a dead body.
Sean Dynes, who has a heart condition, discharged himself from the Vicarage Road hospital after finding a corpse in the bed next to his and being told it was not due to be moved until the morning.
The 46-year-old, from Leavesden Green, and his wife had made the macabre discovery after she looked behind the curtain of the neighbouring cubicle to discover the source of an “horrendous” smell.
Mr Dynes said: “I know the dead can’t harm you, but they still need dignity. Put them in a room where they can be left.”
Watford General Hospital said it had no issues with its mortuary at the time and has launched an investigation into the incident.
Mr Dynes’s hospital visit came on Saturday after he complained he was feeling unwell to his wife Sherry and the pair went for a drive to get some fresh air.
The Boundary Way resident has a condition called autonomic nervous system disorder which was caused by a head injury.
It means his heart can randomly slow down and shut off. As a result he has been fitted with a pacemaker that will kick in if his heartbeat slows below a certain rate.
In the course of the drive Mr Dynes blacked out and woke in Watford General’s A&E resuscitation unit.
He was later moved to a ward in the acute admissions unit at around 8pm to stay overnight.
It was while in the ward the pair smelled what Mr Dynes described as an “horrendous smell” coming from the bed next door.
After a while Mrs Dynes looked round the curtain and saw the corpse, which was wrapped in a sheet.
The former carpenter said: “He was dead, unbelievably dead. I know the smell from working clearing houses where old people have died.”
Mrs Dynes then raised the issue with a member of staff and requested that her husband be moved to another bed.
“They said there was nothing they could do. I said I could not sleep next to it,” added Mr Dynes.
After raising his objections to no avail, Mr Dynes decided to discharge himself and was asked on his way out by another member of staff on the ward why he was leaving.
He said: “I looked at her and said, ‘I have got a dead person next to me’. She said he was only going to be there until the morning. I just wanted to get out of the door.”
When someone dies at Watford General staff have a general target of four hours to remove the body from a ward, which can be extended if family are coming to see it.
However once a corpse has been cleaned and wrapped in a sheet it is due to be collected and taken down to the mortuary.
Mr Dynes added that he had been treated at Watford General many times before and said he had always received a good standard of care.
He said he felt staff at the hospital were currently overworked and more were needed on the wards.
Natalie Forrest, director of nursing for West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The trust is always concerned to hear of any patients, family members or carers who are unhappy with the service they have received.
“In the sad event of a patient’s death on a hospital ward, every effort is made to transfer the deceased to the mortuary as soon as possible.
“On the night in question, the trust was not experiencing any difficulties with moving patients to the mortuary and is currently in the process of conducting a thorough investigation to find out how this incident occurred.”
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