A distraught family were denied the chance to say a final farewell to their dying mum – after bungling nurses mixed up the telephone numbers of her next-of-kin with another patient.
Avril Chadwick, 57, was rushed to University Hospital in Coventry, on February 27 last year where she was treated for pneumonia on a short-stay unit.
The mum-of-six appeared to be recovering but was moved to a cardiology and respiratory ward and deteriorated rapidly on March 1 after doctors stopped her IV fluids.
But an admin error meant a nurse mixed up her family’s telephone number with those of another patient who was on the mend in the same ward.
Tragically, staff mistakenly called Linda Allen – whose mother was recovering from minor surgery – five times saying she was dying and advised her to come in as soon as possible to say her goodbyes.
During one call Mrs Allen even told nurses she was with her mother who was sat up in bed, chatting and enjoying a cup of tea.
Meanwhile Avril’s husband Thomas, 62, and daughter Jodie, 28, were oblivious her condition had deteriorated and stayed at home just three miles away from the hospital.
Shockingly, Jodie telephoned the ward to tell nurses she was coming into visit her mum in the morning but she had already died.
Mum-of-four Jodie, from Coventry, fumed: “I am disgusted what the hospital has done.
“I called at 9.58am to ask if I could visit my mum but I was just told ‘no’.
“The nurse didn’t give a reason. She stunned me because she was so abrupt.
“Now the hospital have confirmed she actually died at 9.50am.
“The hospital first called us just after 2pm and we were there by 2.20pm.
“We rushed through three red lights to get there.
“My dad and six of us rushed there and then they told us in a little room she had already gone.
“My dad turned around and said that was four hours ago.
“At the time they told us they couldn’t find mum’s notes and that’s why they couldn’t get hold of us.
“And then a few weeks later we had a meeting and that’s when they told us they had called the wrong family.
“If they had called us in the morning we would’ve had the chance to say goodbye.
“We had been up there the whole time because of how ill she was but she died on her own, probably scared and all on her own.
“It breaks my heart to think of her dying without any of us around her.
“A mother is the one person you can’t replace. It’s like a piece of us is missing.”
Because of the cock-up, nurses called Mrs Allen FIVE times to say her mother was dying.
Astonishingly, nurses continued to call Linda even when she told nurses she was sat with her mother who was in her hospital bed drinking a cup of tea.
When the mistake was finally realised, Avril’s family were told to come into the hospital where they were dealt the devastating news that she had died earlier.
Thomas – who gave up his career as a builder to care for his wife-of-41 years – months before she was taken into hospital, is now considering suing the NHS for medical negligence.
Jodie added: “After all these mistakes we don’t feel we can trust what we have been told.
“Mum was a lovely person. She didn’t deserve this, we don’t deserve this.
“As a family we can’t move on because we have been fighting for the truth.”
The hospital yesterday admitted the wrong contact details were written on Avril’s health record and have apologised to her family.
Mark Radford, chief nursing officer, said: “A very simple error led to serious consequences for Mrs Chadwick’s family and led them to feel unnecessary distress at a very difficult time.
“For this I am very sorry. This should never have happened and I will do everything I can to ensure no other family suffers in the same way.”