Monday 30 November 2009

GPs 'should offer climate change advice to patients'

The Climate and Health Council, a collaboration of worldwide health organisations including the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Society of Medicine, believes there is a direct link between climate change and better health.

Their controversial plan would see GPs and nurses give out advice to their patients on how to lower their carbon footprint.

The Council believes that climate change “threatens to radically undermine the health of all peoples”.

It believes health professionals are ideally placed to promote change because “we have ethical responsibility… well as the capacity to influence people and our political representatives to take the necessary action”.

The Council has been recently formed to study the health benefits of tackling climate change and promotes a range of ideas from reducing your carbon footprint by driving less and walking more to eating local, less processed food.

Late cancer diagnosis 'costs up to 10,000 lives a year'

Failure to pick up cancer at an early stage costs the lives of up to 10,000 a year in England, the government's cancer tsar is reported to have said.

The Guardian quotes National Cancer Director Professor Mike Richards as saying the situation is "unacceptable". Currently, 90% of patients are diagnosed by symptoms, rather than through screening. Professor Richards' comments will feature in a forthcoming article in the British Journal of Cancer.

In an excerpt published in the Guardian, Professor Richards said: "These delays in the patient presenting with symptoms and cancer being diagnosed at a late stage inevitably costs lives. The situation is unacceptable so the first big step has been to understand why the delays occur."

Professor Richards said that if diagnosis in England was as good as in the best-performing European countries many lives could be saved...
Source: BBC.

Friday 27 November 2009

Blood stain scandal hits two hospitals

An expert taskforce is to be sent into a hospital after inspectors uncovered a litany of grisly failings.
They have been called in by watchdogs who found floors and curtains stained with blood, blood-spattered trays used to carry implements, soiled mattresses and mouldy breathing machines. Inspectors also highlighted higher-than-expected death rates at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which operates two hospitals in Essex.
The findings emerged after a surprise visit, just weeks after another official report rated the trust as 'good'...
Source: The Metro

Thursday 26 November 2009

Bulimic teenager 'let down by useless NHS'

"A teenager who battled anorexia and bulimia was let down by health chiefs, an inquest heard yesterday.
Alice Rae's father, Peter, criticised the care given to his daughter a fortnight before she died. The 18-year-old was admitted to hospital on December 29 last year when her blood potassium levels were dangerously low. She was discharged within hours and was found dead in her bed by her mother two weeks later..."
Source: The Metro

Brain tumour boy dies after being shunted between three hospitals

"A 10-year-old boy suffering a burst brain tumour died after being taken to three hospitals and waiting for seven hours for an ambulance transfer.
The parents of Kieran Howard were left watching helplessly amid errors by NHS staff. An inquest today was due to hear how doctors initially failed to realise Kieran was fatally ill. There was a seven-hour delay transferring him from Pembury Hospital in Kent to St Thomas' Hospital in London because ambulance crews were "too busy".
Medical staff then searched desperately for a neurosurgical unit which could operate. He was finally taken to King's College Hospital, but never regained consciousness, dying on 2 April last year. In all, it took 15 hours for him to receive specialist treatment..."

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Brain damage victim wins £3.2m after doctors missed meningitis

A man who was left severely brain-damaged after doctors failed to diagnose he was suffering from meningitis for five days was today awarded £3.2million in compensation.

Mark Thomas, 20, is unable to work or live independently as a result of the brain injury sustained in 2002, when he was 12 years old. Doctors at Walsall Manor Hospital in the West Midlands did not link his symptoms to the potentially fatal illness...

Law firm Irwin Mitchell, which represents Mr Thomas, said he first attended Walsall Manor hospital on February 9 2002 following a series of ear infections. He complained of a stiff neck, an aversion to bright lights and extreme lethargy, the firm said. A blood test was taken but the results - which showed Mr Thomas to be suffering from a meningeal infection of the brain - were not reviewed and he was sent home.

A spokesman for Irwin Mitchell said: "These symptoms, together with the blood test results, if they had been reviewed, should have rung alarm bells with doctors. However, rather than admitting Mark into hospital, he was instead sent home and the blood test was not acted upon for five days."

On February 14 Mr Thomas's parents took him back to the hospital where they were told by a nurse that his condition was not sufficiently serious and they were "using emergency A&E services inappropriately". When the couple demanded a second opinion the blood test results were analysed and meningitis was diagnosed...
Source: The Metro

Monday 23 November 2009

Inquiry into finger operation death opens

From The BBC:
A man died during a routine operation on his pinkie finger, a fatal accident inquiry has heard.
Gordon Ewing, 44, from Cambuslang, suffered a cardiac arrest while being treated at the Victoria Infirmary in Glasgow in May 2006. A pathologist told the hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court the death was "intrinsically linked" to lung puncture which happened during his operation...
The FAI heard that the 44-year-old initially broke his finger while playing with his son. He was treated at Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride, but the injury did not set properly and he required a further operation. The petrol station owner then went to the Victoria Infirmary in May 2006. After being given a drug to relax the muscles, Mr Ewing began to show signs of swelling and it was initially felt he had suffered an adverse reaction.
Both lungs eventually collapsed and, despite efforts to revive him, the father-of-two died in the hospital's anaesthetic room...

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary told to improve swiftly

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has demanded "urgent improvements" at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

It follows a Healthcare Environment Inspectorate report highlighting issues needing to be addressed, including cleanliness and infection control. Ms Sturgeon said: "This report makes difficult reading. I am disappointed that so much room for improvement has been identified."

A follow-up inspection was said to already have found some progress. Inspectors had found patients who should be in isolation being treated in general wards, and stains and spillages that had not been cleaned up...
Source: BBC

Friday 20 November 2009

GPs too slow to save girl, five, from swine flu, say family

A FIVE-YEAR-OLD girl suffering from swine flu died after doctors took two weeks to diagnose her illness, according to her family.

Nida Qureshi, from Slough, was seen by three GPs and a hospital doctor who told her parents she may have had tonsillitis. By the time doctors discovered she had the H1N1 virus, Nida was on a life support machine. She died eight days later on 11 November at St Mary's hospital in Paddington.

The girl's uncle said her parents Zubair, 28, and Raheela, 30, who is pregnant with their second child, believe Nida may have lived if swine flu had been diagnosed earlier. Jawaid Qureshi, said: "Her mum, a child carer, and dad are very angry. Nobody picked it up - it's just devastating. We asked lots of questions and got no answers." Mr Qureshi said Nida, who he described as a "bright girl who loved school" did not have any underlying health problems but this has not been confirmed.

Nida also had a lung infection as well as swine flu.
This is number six in our occasional series of people dying from swine flu after being misdiagnosed.

Source: Evening Standard.

Thursday 19 November 2009

Liver cancer drug 'too expensive'

A drug that can prolong the lives of patients with advanced liver cancer has been rejected for use in the NHS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said the cost of Nexavar - about £3,000 a month - was "simply too high".

But Macmillan Cancer Support said the decision was "a scandal".

More than 3,000 people are diagnosed with liver cancer every year in the UK and their prognosis is generally poor.

Only about 20% of patients are alive one year after diagnosis, dropping to just 5% after five years.


Campaigner Kate Spall, who won the right to have two months of treatment for her mother, Pamela Northcott, in 2007, said it had prolonged her life by four-and-a-half "precious" months.

It had allowed her 58-year-old mother, from Dyserth in Denbighshire, "closure" and "peace", she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"The problem in Mum's case is it took a year for me to fight for the treatment, so we'll never know how well she could have done," she said.

"We had extra time, which was very precious to us all, her symptoms were helped greatly. And, more importantly, for Mum it was a case of getting some closure and peace.

"The psychological feeling when a group of people decide that you cannot have a treatment that can help you is really devastating."

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Mother death hospital prosecuted

A hospital in Swindon is to be prosecuted on health and safety charges over the death of a nurse shortly after she gave birth. Mayra Cabrera, a 30-year-old theatre nurse, had a drug used in epidurals pumped into her arm at the Great Western Hospital on 11 May, 2004. She died of a heart attack after giving birth to her son, Zac, who survived.

The Health and Safety Executive has told the hospital it is prosecuting over alleged "safety breaches". Sue Rowley, director of nursing at the Great Western Hospital NHS Trust, said: "The Trust have been summoned to appear at the magistrates court at a future date. We regret the additional distress this case causes Mayra's family and friends and we will minimise this as much as possible by seeking a swift resolution to the case."
The whole exercise seems like tokenism at its worst, but hey.

Source: BBC.

Thursday 12 November 2009

1,800 Deaths A Year Linked To Dementia Drug

Up to 1,800 elderly dementia patients are dying each year from wrongly prescribed anti-psychotic drugs, a Government report has found.

Only around 36,000 of the 180,000 people currently on the drugs in the UK need them, the report said, leaving 144,000 people taking them unnecessarily.

Anti-psychotic medicines are licensed to treat people with schizophrenia and are used off-licence for dementia patients in care homes and hospitals.

In his review, Sube Banerjee, professor of mental health and ageing at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, said the rate of use of anti-psychotic drugs could be cut to one third of its current level with appropriate action.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Hospital slated over cobwebs, dusty floors and dirty toilets

A SCOTTISH hospital has been told to make improvements in its infection control after inspectors found dusty floors, dirty toilets and other areas of concern.

The report said: "In the outpatient reception area, the inspection team found evidence of poor cleanliness in all the inspected public toilets with these areas being generally dusty, dirty under the paper towel holder and in the sink areas.

"The carpet within the outpatients department was heavily stained in several public areas."

In ward six, the report said there were several areas of concern: "The floors were dusty particularly in the corner areas, there was no domestic waste bin in the patient toilets, cobwebs were present in a number of high spaces and a dirty toilet seat and bowl were observed."

The inspectors also found that the patient day room was being used to store equipment, while a patient bathroom was being used as a staff toilet.

They said furniture in the day room was "of an unsatisfactory standard and in need of repair".
Source: The Scotsman

Monday 9 November 2009

Government targets increase superbug risks, say NHS infection chiefs

While rates of MRSA and Clostridium difficile are falling, after scandals over major outbreaks, other potentially fatal infections which receive less attention appear to be soaring, the Commons public accounts committee will say.

Around 300,000 infections are diagnosed in English hospitals every year – but many more potentially fatal bugs may be going undetected, because of a lack of surveillance, research has found.

A voluntary scheme charting all bloodstream infections found numbers increased by 30 per cent between 2003 and 2007, in what the committee's chairman Edward Leigh described as a "rising tide" of infections threatening all hospital patients.

The report is expected to show increasing numbers of cases of E-coli, linked to surgical site infections and urinary tract problems, and in cases of the bacterial infection Klebsiella.

The Sunday Telegraph has established that the NHS' most senior doctors and scientists responsible for infection control believe their efforts are being hindered by Government waiting targets.

An anonymous survey of 170 NHS directors of infection control found that 59 per cent had experienced a clash between their efforts to block the spread of disease and rules which say new patients must be found a bed within four hours.

Saturday 7 November 2009

Man sent home from hospital died after being given wrong diagnosis

A man who was sent home from hospital by doctors who thought he had a virus died hours later, an inquest heard.

Doctors believed Nitesh Sharma's symptoms were the result of a winter bug, but in fact he had a twist in his bowel which caused a heart attack and multiple organ failure.

The 29-year-old had been taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary by his wife, Hiral, on November 21, 2007, after he had complained of chest pains, vomiting and diarrhoea.

He underwent tests and was discharged by doctors, who told the inquest they believed he had the norovirus.

His wife was so concerned after seeing him double-up in pain in the hospital car park she insisted he was checked again, and the second doctor came to the same conclusion.

At 6am the next day, he was re-admitted to hospital and minutes later suffered a heart attack. It was then that doctors discovered he had a kink in his bowel, which it is believed would have caused his vomiting and diarrhoea.

Mr Sharma underwent emergency surgery but died later that day as a result of multiple organ failure, the inquest at Leicester Town Hall heard.

Consultant general surgeon David Hemingway carried out the emergency surgery. He told the coroner that Mr Sharma would have had a less than 5% chance of dying if the operation had been carried before the heart attack.
Or, to put it another way, if one of the two doctors who had examined him had noticed the problem, there is a 95% chance he would still be alive today. Because ...

The inquest heard that other than having Type 1 diabetes, Mr Sharma had been in good health.
The pathologist, it would seem, was careful not to upset her NHS chums.

Pathologist Dr Catherine Richards told the inquest ... "It is possible he could have survived if surgery had been carried out before."
Possible? 95% is a darn site more than 'possible'.

Source: Leicester Mercury

Sunday 1 November 2009

'Whitewash' claim over Lisa Norris radiation overdose ruling

The family of a teenager wrongly given massive doses of radiation has branded a decision not to punish the doctor responsible a “whitewash”.

The Health Professions Council (HPC) upheld charges against Dr Stuart McNee at a disciplinary hearing in Edinburgh but decided he should not be struck off.

Speaking afterwards, the parents of Lisa Norris said the decision was a “travesty” and said no one had taken responsibility for administering 19 radiation overdoses.

The 16-year-old was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2005, and was given radiation 58 per cent higher than prescribed in January 2006.

This left her with burns on her head and neck. She died from the tumour at her home in Ayrshire later that year.

The conduct and competence hearing was attended by Lisa’s parents Ken and Liz, who said they would continue with legal action against Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board.

Mr Norris, 53, said: “I'm very disappointed that a man can do what he did and walk away from it. I was expecting him to at least get reprimanded for it.

“I expected him to be here so we could come face to face with him. No one has taken responsibility for overdosing Lisa and as far as I'm concerned they have just whitewashed it.

“It doesn't matter that he had a good, impeccable record. What he did, he shouldn't have done. It's a travesty.”

The HPC disciplinary panel found Dr McNee had been responsible for planning the botched course of radiotherapy at the Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow.

But they concluded his biggest failing had been not speaking out over staffing pressures in his department.

This had led to his failure to ensure that standing operating procedures were up to date or even followed, or to make sure that systems were in place to ensure his trainee practitioners were supported.

Alistair Forsyth, representing Dr McNee, argued his client had “simply reached a breaking point where too much was being expected of him”.

The doctor had to deal with 80 to 100 cases at any one time and was the only senior radiotherapy physicist involved in treatment planning at one of the busiest centres of its kind in the UK.

Baby died after 'massive overdose' of glucose

A premature baby, Poppy Davies, died after being given a ''massive overdose'' of glucose following a series of blunders at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Poppy was transferred to the leading children's hospital in London for specialist care after she was born three months early on Christmas Eve last year, in Basildon, Essex.

But she died after a "domino effect" of mistakes, an inquest was told.

Rebecca Tite, a trainee nurse, who had spent just three weeks in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, set up a machine supplying her with glucose incorrectly, flooding her body with the solution.

The levels of glucose in Poppy's blood rose to 20 times the maximum level they should have been, causing ''devastating effects'' to her body, St Pancras Coroner's Court in central London heard.

The machine that nurses would have preferred to use to give Poppy glucose would have prevented an accidental overdose being given to her, the inquest heard.

But the equipment was not available after being taken away to help threat a five-year-old boy suffering from meningitis who had needed it urgently.

Both Mrs Tite and Claire Kirk, the senior nurse on duty on January 11, the day of the overdose, failed to check the safety clamp on the syringe that was then used to provide glucose.

As as result, instead of being carefully measured, a free flow of glucose entered Poppy's bloodstream and circulated for over an hour.

The nurses then failed to respond to alarms that sounded in the baby's cubicle which could have alerted them to the fatal error, as they were treating her for breathing problems instead.

Doctors eventually tried to save Poppy's life by giving her insulin but she died on February 1.

Patient left locked in ambulance

NHS bosses have apologised to a patient in Manchester who was locked in an ambulance for five hours after the driver went home and forgot about him.

The man, 65, was stranded at Sharston ambulance station, Wythenshawe, after being collected by an ambulance from Manchester Royal Infirmary.

The alarm was raised when he failed to return to the care home where he lives.

The North West Ambulance Service said an inquiry had begun and a staff member "was suspended with immediate effect".

The incident happened on Tuesday when the patient was collected from the hospital at 1915 GMT.

Instead of being returned to the care home, he was driven back to the ambulance station where he was left until 0100 GMT.