A CORONER has warned about the dangers of ignoring medical advice after a regular drug user died after discharging himself from hospital.
Andrew Collier died aged 49 just two days after he discharged himself from Manchester Royal Infirmary having undergone an operation to remove a cancerous tumour from his mouth.
He died from aspiration pneumonia, an infection caused by food particles getting into the lungs, at Royal Albert Edward Infirmary after collapsing at his home in Linney Square, Scholes, on May 6.
Bolton Coroners Court heard that Mr Collier had been using heroin daily for about 18 years and had injected the drug on the day of his death.
Both Mr Collier’s drug use and the surgery, which Mr Collier underwent on April 24, as it may have affected his ability to swallow causing food particles to enter his lungs, were considered contributing factors in his death.
Consultant maxillofacial surgeon Massimo Maranzano, who treated Mr Collier, told the court that aspiration pneumonia was a rare consequence of the surgery and that Mr Collier had been told not to eat or drink more than sips of water on leaving hospital.
He said: “Usually we would carry out a swallow assessment about 10 days after surgery but because Mr Collier discharged himself against medical advice this did not occur.”
Mr Collier’s partner Amanda Wilde told the court that when he returned from hospital he had eaten porridge, soup and spaghetti even though he had been told not to.
She said: “He was hungry, that is why he discharged himself from hospital because he was being fed through a tube but he didn’t feel he was getting enough.”
She also said that he had gone out to buy heroin as soon as he was discharged and had injected himself at about 11am on the day of his death before going to bed because he wasn’t feeling well. She checked on him throughout the day but found him unresponsive at around 5pm.
Forensic pathologist Philip Lumb, who carried out a post mortem on Mr Collier, said that he was unable to tell if the surgery had caused the aspiration but said that taking heroin and methadone, a prescribed heroin replacement, would have contributed.
He said: “Heroin and methadone use can cause aspiration on its own because they affect the way the nervous system, which controls swallowing works. It also causes the user’s breathing to become shallower which will not help if there is aspiration.”
Assistant coroner Rachel Griffin recorded a narrative conclusion that the cause of Mr Collier’s death was aspiration pneumonia caused by the misuse of drugs and a naturally occurring disease and its treatment.
She said: “His death should be warning to others to adhere to medical advice when it is given and about the use of illegal drugs. Drugs can have a catastrophic effect, a devastating impact and a fatal impact.”
Following the hearing, Mr Collier’s sisters, Debra Pearson and Diane Cameron paid tribute to him.
They said: “He was a great brother but he let the drugs take over. He was so kind, he would take anyone to live with him if they were homeless or needed someone to stay.”