Hospital failed in its 'duty' to dying patient

AN ELDERLY woman with terminal cancer was discharged from a hospital in Swindon without her family being informed of her condition, or any arrangement being made for her care, although it was known that she lived alone.

In addition the 79-year-old woman, known only as Mrs X, was subjected to 'unnecessary suffering' because doctors at the Princess Margaret hospital failed to 'get to grips with her medical condition', according to a report on the case. There was also confusion among geriatricians and surgeons over who was responsible for her care.

The case has led to an urgent review of patient discharge procedures at the hospital, and Swindon Health Authority has been told to consider as a priority 'the establishment of satisfactory discharge procedures' to avoid similar mistakes. The report also recommends that the case is written up by an independent expert and 'used as a training aid for key professions and managers in the organisation - from the very top'.

The case came to light after the results of a confidential inquiry were sent out with a health authority meeting agenda by mistake.

A complaint made by the woman's daughter after her mother's death was largely upheld by an independent professional review team from Wessex Regional Health Authority. Its findings were discussed during a closed committee meeting last month.

The woman was admitted to the Princess Margaret hospital on 5 October 1990, suffering from vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain. She was discharged on 16 October. She later underwent further diagnostic tests as an outpatient and bowel cancer was confirmed following an ultrasound scan on 31 October.

The report says: 'Mrs X was admitted to St Margaret's hospital (a branch of the Princess Margaret) on 5 November, and although the result of the scan was known, a locum consultant failed to spot this. Mrs X was prepared for a colopscopy, which was unnecessary under the circumstances. This procedure was postponed three times due to her deterioration.'

On 5 November, her GP told her daughter of the possible cancer but it was not until 23 November that a second locum consultant told her how serious her mother's condition was. The woman died on 8 December.

Paul Vandendale, associate general manager of the Princess Margaret hospital, said that the 'human element' had been forgotten in the discharge of Mrs X. 'We are in the throws of reviewing our discharge procedures . . . this case provides a further stimulus to do that.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss