A gran-of-one who went to hospital for a routine gallbladder operation was left to “bleed to death” on a ward for 16 HOURS because staff were too BUSY, an inquest heard.
Susan Wilson, 59, was admitted to Nottingham’s Queens Medical Centre for the simple procedure on October 18 last year.
The retired care worker spent time on a high-dependency unit before being moved to another ward where observations should have been carried out on a four-hour basis.
Shockingly, a bungling nurse at the hospital failed to carry out the basic checks and Miss Wilson suffered a massive heart attack as a result of severe bleeding on October 19.
An inquest at Nottingham Coroners Court on Wednesday was told the mum-of-one could have been lying dead on the hospital ward for several hours.
Staff nurse Neil Bailey told the hearing he was too busy on his shift to check on Miss Wilson and admitted her requirements were overlooked.
Giving evidence he said: “At no point did I make a conscious decision not to attend to Susan.
“When I handed over my patients (at the end of my shift), I became aware I had entirely overlooked Susan’s needs and requirements and went to check her and it was at that time I discovered no signs of life.”
Nottingham Deputy Coroner Heidi Connor slammed the treatment of Mrs Wilson and described Mrs Wilson’s treatment as “shocking”.
Recording a narrative verdict the coroner said staffing was a national crisis that needed to be addressed.
She said: “It goes without saying this is something the trust needs to prioritise to avoid tragedies like the one we have heard about today.
“To miss or delay one observation is one thing but to have no observations in an entire 12-hour shift and no notes at all is nothing short of shocking.
“It’s clear he (Mr Bailey) felt overwhelmed and I have some sympathy in that respect.
“Staff Nurse Bailey failed to provide the medical attention Susan needed.”
The hearing at Nottingham Council House heard how staffing concerns had been previously raised on the E18 ward, where Mrs Wilson died.
The overburdened nurse had been caring for ten of the 28 patients on the ward at the time.
However, the inquest heard how there were “too many unknowns” to say whether her death would have been avoided as Mrs Wilson had an existing heart problem.
After the hearing her partner of six years Stuart Clift, 66, slammed the hospital and said he believed her death could have been avoided.
The retired care worker said: “We were angry and appalled at the treatment Sue received, the hospital should have done better.
“I think on the the balance of probability she would have survived if treated properly.
“I was extremely shocked to find out what happened to Sue, the hospital didn’t tell me, they did say she had suffered a heart attack which was true and believable as she had
a heart condition.
“Although, what they failed to mention was she was left for almost a full day.
“I only found this out and what really happened in January 2013 when I received the medical reports I was deeply upset, as were the whole family.
“No-one should have had to go through what Sue went through, she was a bubbly person who loved her work as a care worker before she retired through ill-health.
“She was gregarious, she wasn’t frightened to approach people, to be friends with them, she would get involved with people, she really enjoy mixing and was a keen gardener.
“I think that makes it even worse, the fact that she wasn’t a shy person who would usually sit back and not say anything if something wasn’t okay.
“However, 30 hours after the operation she was dead – they simply didn’t monitor her properly.
“The hospital have apologised but I feel Mr Bailey could have done more.”
Paul Sankey, clinical negligence lawyer with law firm Slater and Gordon, added: “Susan Wilson’s tragic death was wholly avoidable.
“She was left to bleed to death on a ward and no one noticed.
“After 16 hours on a ward, none of her four-hourly observations had been done.
“Had nurses checked her vital signs, they would have realised that she was deteriorating, infused blood and returned her to the high-dependency unit.
“She would not have died. The nursing care she received was inadequate and there were too few staff on the ward.
“The Care Quality Commission has raised concerns about staffing levels at Queen’s Medical Centre and the trust running the hospital need to take note.”
Jenny Leggott, director of nursing and midwifery for Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, yesterday issued an apology to the family.
She said “We extend our condolences and reiterate our apology to the family for failing our basic duties of care and letting Mrs Wilson and them down so badly.
“The absence of regular clinical observations and checks on Mrs Wilson overnight when she passed away meant her deteriorating condition regrettably went unnoticed.
“We have learnt from this tragic case and made changes to improve safety and outcomes for our future patients.”