THE chances of saving the life of a former lorry driver would have been higher if notes from his GP over the diagnosis of his condition had been recorded at York Hospital, an inquest has heard.

A verdict of death by misadventure was recorded in the case of Malcolm David Smith, 66, who left hospital after being given antibiotics for a suspected chest infection, but was in fact suffering from a blockage of a main artery.

The hearing was told how Mr Smith went to his GP complaining of a cough and shortness of breath on April 10 last year.

He was immediately referred to York Hospital, with notes from his doctor giving a differential diagnosis of either pneumonia, a pulmonary embolism or cardiac problems.

Initial tests found Mr Smith to be suffering from a shortage of oxygen in his blood, a condition known as hypoxia.

However, the original notes from Mr Smith’s doctor, highlighting the suspected pulmonary embolism, were not recorded by a junior doctor on the ward at the time and, following an improvement in his condition, Mr Smith was sent home the next day after being diagnosed with a chest infection.

An x-ray carried out at the time also showed nothing to arouse the suspicion of medical staff.

However, when Doctor Donald Richardson, a consultant physician at the hospital, was asked at the inquest if a pulmonary embolism was expected to show up on an x-ray, he said no.

“In fact it would lead you to suspect a pulmonary embolism if your x-ray was clear, in terms of hypoxia,” he said.

“I wish and wish and wish I had been the one who saw Mr Smith on that day,” Dr Richardson said.

Mr Smith’s symptoms of breathlessness returned days after been sent home, and he was once again admitted to York Hospital, where he was taken ill and died on April 18.

The cause of death was given as a pulmonary embolism from deep vein thrombosis.

A post-mortem examination found evidence of a residual clot in his right leg.

Acting on behalf of Mr Smith’s family, Roger Quickfall asked Dr Richardson: “In your view, had things gone how you would have liked them to have gone, would Mr Smith still be here now?”

Dr Richardson replied: “The outcome would have been more likely to have been good.”

Recording his verdict, York coroner Donald Coverdale said: “What has happened could be described as a sequence of events that are deliberate and intended, but with unintended consequences.

“The fact that differential diagnosis was not written up in the first place was an unfortunate part of the record keeping.

“But that was the start of a course of events, the outcome of which was regrettable.”