Hospital apologises for wrong patient death call

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The Independent Online

NHS bosses apologised to the family of a hospital patient after relatives were wrongly told she was dead.

A junior nurse at King George's Hospital in Ilford, east London, telephoned the elderly woman's daughter to inform her of the death.

But 10 minutes later - as Barbara Slater was breaking the news to other loved ones - staff called her again to say her mother Lena Parsons was in fact alive.

The hospital said the mistake occurred after 87-year-old Mrs Parsons' notes were mixed up with another patient's.

Mrs Slater, from Bow, told London's Evening Standard: "I'm still in shock a week later.

"I was on the phone to my sister when they rang back and said they've made a big mistake and mum hadn't passed away.

"One minute my mum was dead and the next she was alive.

"I feel hurt, upset and very, very angry."

Mrs Slater said her mother, a widow who has been in hospital for more than a month with suspected cancer, was too frail to be told about the incident.

A spokesman for Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust described the nurse involved as "devastated" and said hospital staff had met Mrs Slater to discuss what happened.

"We apologise unreservedly to Ms Parsons and her family for this mistake," the spokesman added.

"Unfortunately Ms Parsons' notes had been filed incorrectly in place of another patient's.

"When that patient died, Ms Parson's details were accessed by a junior member of staff who called her family to inform them that she had died.

"She realised her mistake within moments and called the family back to explain the situation.

"The nurse involved is devastated by what happened. She has been spoken to by her matron, and disciplinary proceedings are under way.

"She is aware that she should have checked the patient notes carefully before calling the family, but this was a genuine error."