A severe case of medical negligence neglect has been reported after an 86 year old with multiple health problems, had been living with her husband of 65 years in her son’s home in a town in Gloucestershire to convalesce after a short illness when she was admitted to the local hospital in March of last year for observation after she bruised her elbow. She was moved to a ward in the hospital that opens to accommodate more people during the winter but was not seen by a doctor until three days after her admittance.
The ward had been opened on quick notice due to increased demand but there were shortages of doctors and nurses and care was taken over by consultants. The ward was staffed by two qualified and two health care assistants but was funded for a level of three each. According to the nurse director, it was very difficult to keep up with staffing levels and so it was possible that knowledge of the woman and her condition were not known.
In addition, when the woman arrived, the procedures for care had yet been established and did not see a doctor until after she contracted Norovirus and pneumonia from the hospital. However, a staff member at the ward emphasized that someone was on the ward every day and there was a process in place but somehow that process was not followed with regard to the woman. Later she was transferred to another ward where her symptoms began to improve.
About three week later, her diarrhoea returned and doctors determined that she was not likely to recover so they transferred her to a program that would effectively not resuscitate her. Often this is done without the patient’s knowledge and, consequently, the hospital no longer uses this program. The doctor who initially saw the woman felt that clearly something had gone wrong in the system. The woman never did recover and the family agreed to end of life care.
The solicitor representing the family has said that they are having a hard time coming to terms that she entered the hospital with a bruised elbow and died as a result of the chaos that seemed to be prevalent in the ward in which she had first been admitted. The family is looking into legal action against the hospital which has been working with the family over the past year to discuss their concerns, answer questions and determine how they can make improvements.