Tuesday 27 July 2010

NHS pays £250k for mistaken amputation

Crikey! Perhaps this poor guy would have been better served getting a neighbour to cut his toe off with a rusty saw.

A series of medical failures has lad to an NHS Trust paying £250,000 in damages after a patient was admitted to hospital with a toe infection and ended up having his leg amputated.

Former butcher Ian Watts said the Medway hospital’s failure to control his diabetes led to him losing half of his left leg after he was taken into hospital with pain in his toe in July 2004.

The hospital first decided to amputate his toe, but the pain in Watt’s left foot worsened and doctors said they would need to remove the leg below the knee.

Watts said medical staff neglected to control his blood sugar levels and had to revive him after he lost consciousness on the way to the operating theatre.

He also claimed that after the operation nurses nearly gave him the wrong medication because the hospital ward was in a “state of disarray”.

Watt’s condition was made worse when a pressure stocking was applied too tightly to his right leg causing a blood blister to develop.

After he was sent home an ulcer formed on his right foot and he was readmitted to hospital where he was told he would lose his right leg as well.

“I was extremely depressed and distraught at the treatment I had received,” said Watts. “I couldn’t face living without legs.”

But after seeking a second opinion, Watts underwent a nine-hour operation which saved his right leg.

Kashmir Uppal from Thompsons Solicitors said “Medway NHS Trust never admitted liability for what we consider to have been a series of failures that led to the loss of one leg and the near loss of the other,” adding that the Trust initially refused to settle the case out of court.

But a few months before the trial, Medway NHS Foundation Trust agreed to pay Watts £250,000 in compensation in an out-of-court settlement.
Source: Health and Safety at Work

Gearing Up For Withdrawal Of Goodwill?

Working to rule is the most favoured method of industrial action among the 5,185 nurses and midwives who took part in Nursing Times’ exclusive survey.

Asked what duties they would refuse to do as part of formal industrial action, 59 per cent of respondents said they would refuse to work unpaid overtime and 53 per cent said they would insist on leaving the ward or clinic for breaks - something nurses in practice are often unable to do.

Other targets for bolshy nurses may be ‘non-nursing duties’:
Just over half said they would refuse to carry out non-nursing duties such as cleaning and portering - another role nurses are frequently asked to do when workplaces are short staffed.
Of course, should this take place, patients are unlikely to notice the difference:
A report by the National Health Service has found that millions of patients suffer falls or malnutrition during their stay in hospital, according to the Daily Mail.
When you have to remind people exactly what their jobs are, you may well ask how they’d have the nerve to go on strike in the first place…
The report, entitled High Impact Actions for Nursing and Midwifery: The Essential Collection, concluded that many of the injuries could have been avoided and reminded staff of their duties.

Almost a quarter of patients are malnourished the report, which was sent to hospitals last month, found.

It admitted: "Most patients, carers, health care professionals, commissioners, senior managers and chief executives do not realise how common it is in the UK and so it goes unrecognised and untreated."

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Elderly patients 'leaving NI hospitals malnourished'

Too many elderly people are leaving hospital malnourished, a charity has claimed.

Age Northern Ireland said older patients were being left hungry because they were unable to eat the food left on their hospital tray.

The charity said patients depended on families to both provide the food and feed it to them.

It said relatives were concerned patients were malnourished because food was not being pureed or cut up.

Duane Farrell from the charity said ensuring patients are properly looked after in hospital is more important than ever in the current economic climate.

"Under these conditions older people are going to spend longer in hospital, they're at risk of getting more infections and are going to need more medicine, so the economic reasons are argument enough," Mr Farrell said.

"We believe that hospital trusts need to be at the forefront of this, directors of nursing within those trusts need to be compiling information about how standards are being implemented and coming up with action plans."

Leandre Munroe, from Belfast, said her mother was sometimes unable to even reach her food tray.

"They can't bend over if they've just had surgery so the tray was just too far away.

"If it was closer, even then she couldn't cut it so you had to try and spoon feed, just to drink things she would need a straw," Ms Munroe added.

"Unless you were there to feed the person you were caring for, there wasn't enough staff to do that."

In a statement, the Department of Health said nutritional standards for patient food in hospitals was launched in 2007.

Since then trusts had adopted a screening tool to identify those patients who are at most risk, the department said.
Source: BBC

Schoolgirl, 15, had four heart attacks and died days after doctors sent her home and told her 'take paracetemol'

A frightened schoolgirl suffered multiple organ failure and four heart attacks just days after doctors sent her home with paracetamol and told her to take 'plenty of rest', an inquest heard.

Amy Carter, 15, begged doctors not to discharge her, telling them 'I'm dying' but medics assured her she would be fine. Two days later on Christmas Eve, Amy - who had not been able to eat for 19 days and weighed just six stone - was rushed into hospital and died hours later.

An inquest heard the teenager had developed a lethal combination of conditions never before seen in a patient. A post-mortem revealed Amy, from Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire, died from glandular fever and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome..."
Source: Daily Mail

Twin born after 23 week pregnancy becomes most premature baby to survive

A twin girl has become the youngest baby to be born prematurely and survive in Britain, it has been claimed.

Amelia Hope Burden was born before the 24-week legal limit for abortion when her mother was just 23 weeks and two days pregnant, the Daily Mail reported.

She was born weighing only 1lb 2oz ten days before her brother Arthur arrived at 1lb 4oz.

He was born in July after Amanda Staplehurst had been pregnant for 24 weeks.

She went to hospital complaining of stomach cramps only to be told that she was in labour.

Amelia Hope showed little sign of life but doctors were able to revive her.

Under law they are not obliged to do so unless they feel it is in the child’s best interest.

Miss Staplehurst, 30, from Bournemouth, told the Daily Mail: “Doctors said she had just a 10 per cent of chance of survival and we never thought she’d pull through.

“Then having delivered Amelia Hope, it was totally bizarre that for ten days I remained pregnant with Arthur. The doctors have told us they’ve never come across a case like it.”

The babies are being kept in incubators but are putting on weight and said to be developing well.

The twins’ survival will give weight to the campaign to have the abortion limit lowered.

Some campaigners would like to see it reduced to 20 weeks.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, voted for a cut earlier this year and has said that an upper limit of 20 or 22 weeks would be “sensible”.

The previous British record for surviving premature twins was 24 weeks, the paper reported.
Source: The Telegraph

Updated: Baby born at 23 weeks dies because she was 'one week too early'

See Above.

A heartbroken mum who tried for five years to get pregnant told yesterday how a hospital let her premature baby die - because she was born one week too early.

Latisha Brown and husband Robert, 30, begged staff to put daughter Alexis in a special care incubator after she was born at home at 23 weeks. Alexis, who weighed 1lb 1oz and was 28cms long, was breathing, kicking and waving her arms when taken to hospital on June 26.

But a midwife at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said there was nothing they could do. Alexis clung on to life for two hours without any medical help before she died. Guidelines say babies born less than 24 weeks into pregnancy should not be resuscitated.

Nursery nurse Latisha, 23, from Attleborough, Norfolk, said: "I can't understand why they just left her to die."

The hospital said: "There was no question of survival for such a premature baby."
Source: The Daily Mirror.

Monday 19 July 2010

Bolsin For UK Honours List

Please support our campaign to nominate Whistleblower Stephen Bolsin on the UK Honours List.

Support Steve Bolsin For UK Honours

Sunday 18 July 2010

Baby Peter GP suspended for year

A GP who saw Baby Peter eight days before his death has been suspended from working as a doctor for 12 months.

The General Medical Council had already ruled there were "serious failings" in Dr Jerome Ikwueke's care.

Peter, from north London, died aged 17 months in August 2007 after sustained abuse.

His mother Tracey Connelly, her boyfriend Stephen Barker and his brother Jason Owen were jailed last year for causing or allowing his death.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

You don't pose a risk of repeating this behaviour”

End Quote Dr Judith Worthington, GMC panel chairman

Dr Ikwueke, 63, who was the family's GP, had noted that the toddler was not his "usual happy self", seemed "withdrawn" and pulled away when he saw him for the last time on July 26 2007.

The GMC had said the GP breached his professional duty towards the child in not carrying out a full examination, making an urgent referral for further checks or sharing information with a health visitor or social workers.

But giving her judgement, panel chairman Dr Judith Worthington, said: "You don't pose a risk of repeating this behaviour and there's no evidence of deep-seated attitudinal or personality problems."

She also spoke of how Dr Ikwueke had shown remorse, and had taken "remedial action", such as attending a number of child protection courses and improving procedures at his surgery.

Dr Worthington said that, despite the serious breaches identified in Baby Peter's case, striking Dr Ikwueke off the medical register would not be "proportionate or in the public interest".

But she said the panel had decided it was necessary to suspend the GP for the maximum period of 12 months "in order to maintain public confidence in the profession and to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour".

Patients of Dr Ikwueke had given written and verbal testimonies to the hearing in his support.
Face value

The GP saw Peter at his north London surgery at least 14 times in the months before his death.

The GMC panel ruled there were "serious" failings to prioritise the toddler's welfare in the doctor's care.

It said Dr Ikwueke should have considered the possibility of child abuse when he noticed Peter had bruises on his chest and head at an appointment on October 13 2006.

Instead he accepted a claim by the child's mother that he had fallen downstairs at "face value".

The GP also failed to mention these injuries when he referred Peter to hospital with further bruising two months later.

Dr Ikwueke, who qualified as a doctor in Nigeria and worked as a GP for nearly 20 years, denied misconduct.

Source: BBC

Thursday 15 July 2010

Out-of-hours GP firm had systematic failings, CQC says

I know we've mentioned this story before, but it just gets worse:
A company providing out-of-hours care in an area where a pensioner died after a painkiller overdose had "systematic" failings, the NHS regulator says.

David Gray, 70, from Manea, Cambridgeshire, was killed by Dr Daniel Ubani, a German medic working his first NHS shift for Take Care Now. The now-defunct firm was criticised for failing to act on previous cases and warnings on standards.

The Care Quality Commission said the whole NHS should learn lessons too. The death of Mr Gray in February 2008 after he was given 10 times the normal dose of diamorphine has focused national attention on weekend and night GP cover, which in many cases is provided by private firms.

The CQC criticised Take Care Now (TCN) for failing to investigate and learn from two previous cases of diamorphine overdoses prior to Mr Gray's death...
Source: BBC

Nurses thought anorexic teenager who died in their care 'was just sleeping'

An anorexic teenager under 24-hour hospital supervision died in bed - in front of nurses who thought she had just fallen asleep. Rachael Stubbs, 17,was on the highest level supervision and should have had her hands and neck in full view of nurses at all times at the private Cheadle Royal Hospital, in Cheadle, Greater Manchester, an inquest heard. A coroner is now writing to health bosses, saying observations 'were not carried out properly'.

The teenager went to bed face down and began to make heavy breathing noises 'like she was hyperventilating', on January 13, 2008. Nurses, who should have been within arm's reach of Rachael at all times, did not intervene and 15 minutes later the noises stopped, but they assumed she had fallen asleep. Nurses on the Meadows Unit dialled 999*; when they realised she was not breathing 10 minutes later

Stockport deputy coroner Joanne Kearsley said: 'I find from the evidence that the (level four) observations were not being carried out correctly. I accept that this was a particularly difficult time for the unit and the staff who have to deal with distressing and difficult patients and situations, but I fail to find any reason why the guidance was not followed. Perhaps of most concern was the fact that CPR was not commenced when Rachael was found. I would expect all staff to be reminded of the importance of this in an emergency situation.'
Source: Daily Mail

* WTF? Aren't nurses supposed to know CPR? Isn't that a bit like the fire brigade calling the fire brigade?

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Nurses spend more time doing paperwork than looking after patients

Some nurses are spending more than half their time doing paperwork instead of looking after patients, according to new figures.

Statistics from one group of hospitals show senior sisters and charge nurses – who oversee all the patients and staff on a ward – spend as little as 44 per cent of their time with patients.

Managers at Cambridge University NHS Trust have handed senior sisters and charge nurses new contracts to ensure they spend at least 80 per cent of their time to caring for patients.

Chief nurse Karen Castille said: “The trust is piloting a scheme to free up sisters’ and charge nurses' time and trying to measure the impact of this.”

She told the Nursing Standard magazine the hospitals would be trying out the new contracts until the end of the year.

It comes amid growing concerns that nursing staff are being increasingly swamped by bureaucracy and target-chasing.

Dr Peter Carter, General Secretary of the RCN said: “Nurses enter the profession because they want to care for patients, and so measures that increase the amount of time they spend with patients are a good thing.

"However, it is often problems with resourcing that reduce the amount of time nurses spend with patients.

“It is vital that wards are sufficiently resourced so nurses can provide patients with the level of care they want and deserve.”

The Royal College of Nursing has repeatedly warned that nurses are being forced to spend too much time on paperwork.

Source: The Telegraph

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Aylesbury and Wycombe MPs slam treatment after Stoke Mandeville Hospital death

FURIOUS MPs have slammed the "shocking" hospital treatment of a 77-year-old woman whose death came after nurses failed to give her medication for 36 hours. Health bosses said they were launching a 'detailed investigation' following an inquest into the death of Hughenden Valley resident Margaret Brown at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
The inquest heard on Friday drugs to treat Mrs Brown were unavailable after staff at the hospital's pharmacy could not be contacted. Nurses' attempts to obtain the drugs was described as "haphazard" by coroner Richard Hulett, who recorded a verdict of misadventure.
Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust this week apologised to Mrs Brown's family and offered its "sincere condolences"...

Monday 12 July 2010

Talented singer died 'after doctors blamed agonising headaches on pregnancy

A talented singer married to one of Britain's top songwriters died after her rare brain condition was repeatedly mistaken for pregnancy complications, her family claims.
One doctor said the headaches were caused by a slipped disc while another told her it was just a trapped nerve.
A third doctor said her migraines were hormone-related and one suggested they were being triggered by an addiction to painkillers.
When she finally had an MRI scan in March - three months after giving birth to daughter Sophia - doctors discovered she was suffering from Chiari malformation.
The condition - which affects one in 1,000 people - is a deformity at the base of the skull which crushes the brain stem into the spinal column causing a blockage of spinal fluid.
The mother-of-two underwent an operation on June 23 to relieve pressure on the brain stem but she died three days later of heart failure.

Source: Daily Mail

A new treatment is giving hope to MS sufferers such as Mark Walker. So why can’t he get it in Britain?

Mark Walker is what the NHS calls an “expert patient”. He’s someone who knows all there is to know about the disease that has shadowed his existence on and off, for nearly 20 years, forcing him to give up the high-flying job he adored, and curtailing an active life. Walker asks difficult questions of doctors, expects candid answers, and pursues new research doggedly.

Before our meeting at the pretty bungalow on the outskirts of Oxford where he lives with his wife, Natasha, he provided me with a detailed record of the onset of his multiple sclerosis (MS): from the first signs of a problem (double vision in December 1991) through putative diagnoses (myasthenia gravis and a brain tumour) and accumulating symptoms (numbness, balance and bladder problems) to definitive diagnosis in 2000. Each treatment tried and its result are documented meticulously, as you would expect from someone who qualified originally as a pharmacist.

Today, at 51, the former IBM management consultant has severely impaired mobility on his right side. He relies on a walking aid known as a Musmate and trekking poles. He knows what, in all probability, lies ahead – a life of increasing debilitation and limitation. It is this glimpse of the future that lies behind his decision – a “rational and considered one” – to go to Athens for tests and, possibly, treatment based on a controversial new theory about the cause of MS.

Walker is frustrated, however, that he must seek help abroad and, given that he lives close to two world-renowned MS centres at the John Radcliffe and the Nuffield hospitals, angry at the lack of support from MS experts here in exploring new approaches.

“Yes, I am desperate. Two years ago I was living in a three-storey townhouse in the centre of Oxford. Now, I’m living in a bungalow because I can’t do stairs very well. Ten years ago, I was managing a team of 20 people in Rome. Now, my life is all about managing my disease.

''In the 21st century, patients like me, who are well informed about their progressively disabling disease, should be allowed to choose private diagnostic tests and treatment for themselves. And health-care professionals should surely be helping patients’ freedom of choice.

Source: The Telegraph

Sunday 11 July 2010

Sacked NHS whistleblower vindicated

Tribunal judge orders that radiology manager who reported senior doctors' misconduct be reinstated on her full salary

An NHS worker with an unblemished 27-year career was sacked after she blew the whistle on senior doctors who were moonlighting at a private hospital while being paid to diagnose NHS patients, an employment tribunal has heard.

Sharmila Chowdhury, 51, the radiology service manager at Ealing Hospital NHS Trust, repeatedly warned the hospital's most senior managers that doctors were dishonestly claiming thousands of pounds every month.

A Watford employment tribunal judge took the unusual step last week of ordering the trust to reinstate Ms Chowdhury's full salary and said: "I have no hesitation in saying that you are probably going to win."

The ruling will be a bitter blow for the trust, particularly as despite the seriousness of the allegations, it failed for two years to take any action against Miranda Harvie and Peter Schnatterback, the two doctors accused of fraud at the hearing.

Instead, Ms Chowdhury was suspended after a counter-allegation of fraud made against her by a junior whom she had reported for breaching patient safety. Radiographer Michael McWha made the allegation at the request of Dr Harvie, the tribunal heard. Ms Chowdhury was sacked for gross misconduct in June, eight months after her suspension.

This case is the latest to highlight the inadequate legal protection for whistleblowers who speak out about wrongdoing in the NHS. It also raises the uncomfortable question about the power yielded in the NHS by senior doctors. The onus is now on the trust to prove at next February's tribunal that Ms Chowdhury was guilty of fraud and not, as she claims, sacked because she was a whistleblower.

Speaking after the judgment, a tearful Ms Chowdhury expressed her relief after months of financial hardship. A widow with a teenage son, Ms Chowdhury has been forced to move back in with her elderly parents and rely on the goodwill of outraged lawyers. She told The Independent on Sunday: "I cannot believe what has happened to me. I was horrified and humiliated when escorted out of the building, and for a whole month, I had no idea why I was suspended. I was just doing my job. I thought the trust would want to know consultants were doing private work on NHS time. The public has a right to know what is happening with public money.

"This whole thing has completely changed me. I'm trying to stay positive but I loved my work, my department, and there are not many jobs out there. I hope the trust sees sense and tries to resolve the situation. If it hadn't been for Julie Morris at Russell Jones and Walker who took on my case for free, I would have lost everything I'd worked for all my life."

Source: The Independent

Thursday 8 July 2010

Jane Harrop, 30, dies after doctors tell her: You've only got a headache

Jane Harrop was told she ‘only had a migraine’. But ten days later, she was dead – after medics failed to diagnose what is believed to be Menigo-myeloncephalitis.

The care at Good Hope Hospital, Birmingham was ‘an absolute joke’, said Mrs Harrop’s husband, Dean, ‘The day before she died on February 19, Jane was rolling about on the floor screaming,’ added the builder from Selly Oak.

Hospital bosses have launched an inquiry into the 30-year-old carer’s treatment, and findings will be passed to a coroner. Lisa Dunn, Good Hope Hospital director, said: ‘We would again like to pass on our sincere condolences to the family.’
Source: The Metro.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

Hospital trust pay-out for brain-damaged taxi driver

A taxi driver who suffered brain damage after a hospital scan was not properly interpreted has been awarded a multimillion-pound pay-out. Leslie Dye was taken to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Essex, after he was stabbed in the neck by a customer in May 2003. Mr Dye, 57, suffered a cardiac arrest which left him seriously disabled and wholly dependent.
The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust admitted liability. The trust has agreed to pay Mr Dye a lump sum of £850,000 plus index-linked periodic payments. Mr Dye is now cared for at the Jacob Centre, in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire.
At London's High Court earlier, Mr Justice Burnett said: "It is obvious that the consequences of the stabbing and the failures in medical care which followed had an absolutely devastating effect upon his life and on the lives of all those close to him."
A trust spokesman said: "Since the incident, the trust has worked hard to ensure the quality of its healthcare services improves and that nothing similar happens again. The trust has apologised to Mr Dye and his family for the quality of care he received at Princess Alexandra Hospital and wishes them all the best for the future."
Source: BBC

NHS trust 'deny' life-saving operation for 13-year-old epilepsy sufferer

"A mother is uprooting her family because she says her NHS trust has denied her seriously ill son a life-changing operation.
Sue Lomas is moving from Staffordshire in the hope another trust will fund a £14,000 operation to ease son Ryan's life-threatening epilepsy. The 13-year-old's fits are so violent he wears a helmet – but is still left with broken teeth and sometimes even a fractured eye socket.
Ms Lomas, 40, made a case for vagal nerve stimulation surgery – in which electric impulses control seizures – but she lost her second appeal to North Staffordshire PCT despite backing from consultants, politicians and carers. 'The NHS will give out things like boob jobs and gastric bands, so why won't they give my son a chance at happiness?' she asked. She is moving from her childhood home of Biddulph to Nottingham to continue her fight.
The trust said it refused the procedure because there was a chance Ryan would feel no benefit."
Source: The Metro