By Emily Andrews
06th March 2010
A man of 22 died in agony of dehydration after three days in a leading teaching hospital.
Kane Gorny was so desperate for a drink that he rang police to beg for their help.
They arrived on the ward only to be told by doctors that everything was under control.
The next day his mother Rita Cronin found him delirious and he died within hours.
She said nurses had failed to give him vital drugs which controlled fluid levels in his body. 'He was totally dependent on the nurses to help him and they totally betrayed him.'
A coroner has such grave concerns about the case that it has been referred to police.
Sources say they are investigating the possibility of a corporate manslaughter charge against St George's Hospital in Tooting, South London.
Mr Gorny, from Balham, worked for Waitrose and had been a keen footballer and runner until he was diagnosed with a brain tumour the year before his death.
The medication he took caused his bones to weaken and he was admitted to St George's for a hip replacement in May last year. The operation left him immobile and unable to get out of bed.
His 50-year-old mother says that he needed to take drugs three times a day to regulate his hormones. Doctors had told him that without the drugs he would die.
Although he had stressed to staff how important his medication was, she said, no one gave him the drugs.
She said that two days after his hip operation, while Miss Cronin was at work, he became severely dehydrated but his requests for water were refused.
He became aggressive and nurses called in security guards to restrain him.
After they had left, he rang the police from his bed to demand their help.
Miss Cronin, who is divorced from her son's father Peter, said: 'The police told me he'd said, "Please help me. All I want is a drink and no one is helping me".
'By this time my son was confused due to his lack of medication and I think the nurses just ignored him because they thought he was just being badly behaved.
'They were lazy, careless and hadn't bothered to check his charts and see his medication was essential.'
That evening, Miss Cronin visited him. She said: 'I told Kane to behave himself because I thought he had been causing trouble - and I feel so bad about that now. I thought maybe he was having a bad reaction to the morphine he was on but in fact it was because he had not had his medication.'
The next morning she visited him before going to work. 'He was delirious and his mouth was open,' she said. 'I gave him a drink of Ribena.
'I told three nurses there was something wrong with my son and they said, "He's fine" and walked off. I started to cry and a locum doctor who was there told me not to worry.
'Eventually the ward doctor came round, took one look at Kane and started shouting for help.'
Miss Cronin was asked to leave her son's bedside. 'He died an hour later,' she said. 'I didn't even realise he was dying. I didn't even have a chance to say goodbye.'
The death certificate said Mr Gorny had died because of a 'water deficit' and 'hypernatraemia' - a medical term for dehydration.
His mother added: 'When I went back to the hospital I was told that all the nurses had been offered counselling as they were so traumatised, but nothing was offered to me.
'The whole thing is a disgrace. This hospital has a brilliant reputation and boasts of its excellent standards and safety record.
'But as soon as my son walked into that ward, his death warrant was signed. Of the 32 people who were involved in my son's care, every one made a mistake that ultimately led to his death, from the consultant to the care assistant.
'There has been an internal investigation but St George's never made it public and it was a whitewash-After his death the hospital never phoned me or wrote to me to apologise. How could this happen in the 21st century?'
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: 'Detectives from the Homicide and Serious Crime Command are investigating the death of Kane Gorny at St George's Hospital after this was referred to us by Westminster Coroner's Court.'
A spokesman for St George's Hospital said: 'We are extremely sorry about the death of Kane Gorny and understand the distress that this has caused to his family.
'A full investigation was carried out and new procedures introduced to ensure that such a case cannot happen in future.
'We have written to the family to explain the actions that have been taken and to answer their concerns about Mr Gorny's care. The family has also been invited to meet with trust staff to discuss the case in detail.'
The tragedy emerged a week after a report into hundreds of deaths at Stafford Hospital revealed the appalling quality of care given by many of the nurses.
This week a task force called on nurses to sign a public pledge that they will treat everyone with compassion and dignity.