Holidaymaker’s travel insurance fears prove fatal

A holidaymaker died after falling off his horse while trekking in Iceland and refusing to tell doctors because he feared it would make his travel insurance invalid, an inquest heard yesterday.

Paul Schofield, 58, slipped out of the saddle during the adventure trip with his partner and assumed that he had cracked a rib.

He only told doctors about a later accident in which he slipped on volcanic dust on a pavement in the capital Reykjavik. He feared that the horse ride would be classed as a dangerous sport.

He was discharged by junior doctors with painkillers but collapsed in his holiday apartment after becoming sick. He was taken back to Iceland’s National University Hospital by ambulance, where he died after surgery. Tests disclosed that he had suffered internal bleeding from a ruptured spleen.

The inquest in Stockport was told that the hospital later admitted that Schofield was sent to the wrong department, his x-ray images were held up by a computer problem and junior doctors underestimated his injuries, The Times reported.

Schofield, of Stockport, bought the adventure holiday last year as a Christmas present to share with his partner, Rosalyn Davies. The couple went to Iceland in April.

Davies said they had booked a full day trek through a local company.

“There was something wrong with Paul’s saddle,” she said. “The leader of the group went to fix it and said that if it happened again to tell her. He did that again and she went to another group to get something for him. It was some sort of gel blanket to put under the saddle.”

The group continued on the trek but Davies said she looked back to see Schofield on the ground.

She said: “Then I realised Paul was in quite a lot of discomfort. He actually said: ‘I think I may have cracked my ribs.’ ”

The couple were escorted back to their car and went to Reykjavik to get painkillers, where Schofield slipped on volcanic dust.

Davies said: “I heard him cry out. We decided he was in quite a lot of pain and it would be best to go to the local hospital.”

At the small injuries unit, Schofield failed to tell doctors about falling off the horse.

“He and I were concerned about our insurance cover at that time,” Davies said. “We were worried that they would consider horse riding to be a dangerous sport. We didn’t appreciate at the time that the situation would become so serious.”

Recording a conclusion of accidental death, coroner Joanne Kearsley ruled that while the hospital had missed opportunities to treat him, the fall from the horse caused him to rupture his spleen.

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