Family’s fears over side-effects following Bexhill man’s death

Jeremy Cumming
Jeremy Cumming

The family of a retired gardener believes a common drug could have contributed to his death, an inquest heard.

Jeremy Cumming, 61, who lived at Rookhurst Lodge residential home in Bexhill, died of bronchopneumonia at the Conquest Hospital on February 14.

At an inquest held on Wednesday (September 2), his bereaved relatives said they believed risperidone – a drug used to treat schizophrenia – may have led to him suffering from pneumonia.

The lung infection is listed as a common side effect of the drug and Mr Cumming’s sister, Vanessa, said he was first prescribed it five weeks before his death.

The family said Mr Cumming, who had learning difficulties, and suffered from diabetes, was feeling ‘very unwell’ at Rookhurst Lodge a week before he was admitted to the Conquest.

His brother, Timothy, said: “Jeremy used to be able to walk quite far.

“He deteriorated quite considerably around a month before he died.

“The week before he was admitted to hospital he told me repeatedly he was suffering from lower back pain. We phoned the home every day to see what was happening.”

During the inquest, Mr Cumming’s half-brother, Ray Fox-Cumming, said: “I want to know how Jeremy was being looked after.

“He had shuffling gait and slurred speech. My sister-in-law had made endless calls saying Jeremy was very unwell, that this was preventable and he needed a doctor immediately.”

In a statement, Dr Suneeta Kochhar, Mr Cumming’s GP, said he had chest and abdominal pain in the last few days before his death. Rebecca Usher, manager of Rookhurst Lodge, said she witnessed no physical side effects in Mr Cumming after he was moved onto risperidone.

Dr Ian Hawley, Conquest pathologist, who carried out the post-mortem examination, said: “I would suspect he contracted the infection before he was admitted to hospital.”

Mr Cumming, who once worked at the gardens of Windsor Castle, was rushed to hospital on February 12 in a serious condition.

Dr Azam Zubir, consultant in gastroenterology, said Mr Cumming was due to have an endoscopy but it was not carried out as doctors deemed it too risky.

The inquest heard Mr Cumming’s condition deteriorated within 24 hours of arriving at the Conquest.

Coroner Alan Craze recorded a verdict of death by natural causes at Hastings Magistrates’ Court.

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