A grieving family are suing the NHS after their father, who suffered from dementia, suffered a fatal fall which was caused by nurses giving him an overdose of SEDATIVES – to “keep him quiet”.
Peter Ryley, 76, died when medical staff pumped him full of FOUR powerful drugs after he became “agitated” in hospital.
Just hours after he was admitted to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham with bowel problems in January 2011 he fell over and smashed his head on the floor of a ward.
An X-ray revealed he had suffered a severe brain haemorrhage and Mr Ryley, who had four grown-up children and ten grandchildren, died five days later on January 22.
An inquest revealed the retired steel worker died from his head injury and a post mortem found he had huge levels of the sedative drugs Lorazepam, Diazepam, Zopiclone and Tramadol in his system.
The family instructed medical negligence firm Irwin Mitchell to investigate the circumstances surrounding their father’s death and the NHS admitted responsibility.
His devastated son Andrew revealed his father was given three doses of drugs within just five minutes.
Mr Ryley, 44, a postman, said: “The hospital report says he was given rectal Diazepam, we don’t know why that happened when all his other pills were being given orally.
“Five minutes later at 8.35am, he was given 1mg of Lorazepam and 50mg of Tramadol, just 40 minutes later he was found on the floor by nurses.
“Dad was admitted to the Queen’s Medical Centre after suffering bowel problems for some time but it soon became clear that staff were so overstretched they didn’t have the necessary resources to care for him.
“I was regularly by his side in the three weeks he was in hospital to help and make sure he had everything he needed but obviously I couldn’t be there 24/7.
“Dad’s dementia meant he did need a lot of care but rather than reassuring him and trying to keep him occupied it came to light at the inquest that the medical staff just kept increasing his sedation levels.
“In the end he was practically delirious from all the drugs he had been given but no steps were taken by the nurses to prevent him from being a danger to himself.
“We have been left devastated by the way Dad was treated.
“He should have been shown some dignity and respect in his final days but sadly the main goal of the nurses and doctors was to keep him quiet.
“The hospital have apologised but the apology felt empty, it didn’t mean a great deal.”
Mr Ryley, who was married to Patricia, 72, for 40 years, suffered a head injury but nurses continued to give him sedatives.
An inquest in September 2012 recorded a narrative verdict and the Coroner criticised staff for sedating vulnerable patients.
Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust yesterday (Mon) admitted full responsibility for Mr Ryley’s death and agreed to act on a number of failings identified in an internal investigation.
These include the trust implementing a sedation guideline for agitated patients and use of expert dementia support on all wards.
Chief executive Peter Homa said: “I wish to reiterate the Trust’s sincere apologies to his family for the fatal head injury Mr Ryley sustained after falling in our care.
“We thoroughly investigated the cause of the fall and the family’s concerns about his care.
“We shared the findings and improvement actions with the family.
“The impact of these actions are monitored at the highest level and our trust board considers the number of falls and the effectiveness of our trust-wide falls prevention programme each month.”
The Care Quality Commission has graded Nottingham University Hospitals Trust as “high risk”, after it recorded higher than usual statistics across a number of areas.
Anna Manning, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell representing the family, said: “Peter was referred to hospital where it was hoped he would receive treatment to help his constipation.
“Sadly, it seems his condition rapidly deteriorated rather than improving and hospital staff appeared to have been plying him with different sedatives rather than engaging with him to keep him calm.
“On top of this, the care plan which had been produced after Peter was identified as being at high risk from a fall was never implemented.
“If this had been done then Peter would not have suffered the serious head injuries from the fall, which sadly led to his death.
“We welcome the news that the CQC is to introduce radical changes to inspect hospitals and improve standards of care and patient safety.
“We see firsthand how distraught some families, such as Peter’s, are at losing loved ones when care standards have been poor.
“We hope it is the first step in a long path of restoring the public’s faith in the NHS and improving patient safety.”