A man with a long history of drug dependency died from heart failure at Royal Blackburn Hospital after taking heroin onto the ward. 

An inquest held in Blackburn heard that 56-year-old Mark Isherwood had been a long-term user of drugs, including heroin, and had suffered with heart problems as a result of his narcotic misuse.

Coroner Janine Wolstenholme told the hearing that Mr Isherwood had been admitted to Royal Blackburn Hospital in August 2023 with shortness of breath and atrial fibrillation.

He was discharged but was then readmitted in September, and then again in October.

Mr Isherwood, who was on a methadone prescription to help manage his heroin use, was again admitted to hospital on November 9, 2023, following a fall and was deemed by doctors to be a high risk of absconding.

Ms Wolstenholme said he was kept on the ward as he had extremely low blood pressure, and was seen by the safeguarding team who decided he would only be allowed to discharge himself once some secure accommodation was arranged for him.

On November 13, it was noted that Mr Isherwood had not taken his methadone prescription for a few days and he was then prescribed this at the hospital, receiving doses on November 13 and November 14.

The inquest heard that on November 15, Mr Isherwood was complaining of a pain in his leg but by 9am he was observed trying to leave the hospital by booking a taxi.

Ms Wolstenholme said: “He told staff he needed to go home to collect some money, as it was payday, and that he would return, but he was advised not to leave the hospital.

“He was also told he could not leave the grounds with a cannula in his arm before telling staff he would take it out himself.

“The cannula was taken out for him and again he was told he should not leave the hospital as his blood pressure was low, but he insisted he was going, and efforts were made to try and persuade him not to leave.

“However, because he was deemed to have capacity there was no power for the hospital staff to prevent him or stop him if he wished to leave.”

When he had not returned some hours later, Ms Wolstenholme said the police were called and doctors raised concerns about his welfare.

Eventually, Mr Isherwood did arrive back at the hospital and observations were taken which appeared to be fine, although he still had very low blood pressure and was suffering from bloating and swollen feet.

He was monitored throughout the night and on November 16 began complaining of pain in his legs again and became extremely agitated.

The inquest heard how Mr Isherwood then spent two hours in the shower and was later found to be showing signs of intoxication and it was discovered by staff that he had taken some heroin while in the bathroom.

The drugs were located and confiscated from him by the police, and he was given methadone later that evening while also being treated for cellulitis in his leg.

In the early hours of November 17, Mr Isherwood’s condition deteriorated rapidly, and doctors suspected he was suffering from septic shock as his leg had become infected.

His family were contacted, but he sadly died that morning before they arrived at the hospital.

A medical cause of death was offered as ischemic bowel, and also atrial fibrillation, heart failure and intravenous drug use. 

Ms Wolstenholme recorded a narrative conclusion and said Mr Isherwood, of Shear Brow, Blackburn, died from ischemic bowel (where blood flow to the bowel is affected) contributed to by heart conditions and long-standing intravenous drug use.