Wigan man refused to be admitted to hospital even though he was told he might die otherwise

A disabled Wigan man died from sepsis after consistently refusing hospital treatment.
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An inquest into the death of Shaun Michael Conlin, 37, heard that over the last six months of his life he had declined medical help, even after he was warned by his GP that he could die unless treated.

Mr Conlin suffered from a range of complex medical issues, mainly brought on by a tragic accident at the age of around 20 when he fell from a third floor window, leaving him a paraplegic and wheelchair bound.

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He developed Type 1 diabetes and had a history of severe mental health problems, including paranoid schizophrenia and self-harm. He also suffered from pressure ulcers.

Shaun Conlin pictured before his accident which left him a paraplegicShaun Conlin pictured before his accident which left him a paraplegic
Shaun Conlin pictured before his accident which left him a paraplegic

At the time of his death last August, Mr Conlin was living in 24-hour supported council accommodation in Scholes.

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The inquest at Bolton coroners’ court heard that on numerous occasions in the months before his death, Mr Conlin had failed to engage with health and social care staff and was described as a “challenging patient and service user.” However, his carers also said he was “a likeable chap on his good days.”

As well as declining or not fully complying with medical advice, Mr Conlin was not eating properly and neglected his personal hygiene. He also missed appointments and hadn’t opened mail delivered to his address. On some days he co-operated with medical staff for minor procedures at home, but at other times would not allow them into the flat.

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The inquest also heard firefighters attended his flat in Hardybutts after a blaze broke out when he tried to light a cigarette on a toaster while intoxicated. The subsequent damage required a complete refurbishment of the flat.

He had also suffered five falls at home. Once he had ended up on the floor after being drunk, but because he refused hospital treatment paramedics were unable to take him there.

The inquest heard that Mr Conlin was assessed as having full mental capacity to make decisions. Although this fluctuated, he was not assessed by mental health staff as having suffered a relapse. Mr Conlin did not give any specific reason for why he declined hospital treatment.

However there was a significant deterioration on August 21 last year and he was admitted to Wigan Infirmary, where the life-threatening nature of his condition became clear. This included malnutrition and poorly controlled diabetes.

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He died the following day from sepsis-induced multi-organ failure.

Mr Conlin’s family was represented at the inquest by his youngest sister Victoria Davies, 31. His mum Tina, in a statement read out at the inquest, said the family were “absolutely heartbroken” at losing him, adding: “He loved his music and spending time with his family.”

The coroner, Timothy Brennand, recorded a narrative conclusion, saying: “Shaun Michael Conlin died as the consequence of naturally occurring disease exacerbated by a combination of recognised complications arising from long standing paraplegia, following injuries sustained in an accidental fall contributed to by recent self-neglect.”

Mr Brennand said there had been no gross or basic failings in the quality of medical care received by Mr Conlin immediately prior to his death.

In a statement issued after the inquest, Shaun’s family said: “Shaun was a big hearted guy who loved his family. A legend at every party with a word for everyone. He was tough in the face of his challenges and never felt sorry for himself. He will live on in our hearts forever. Once you met Shaun he was not a guy to be easily forgotten. We love and miss you son and brother.”