Troubled Hospital Admits Giving Wrong Drugs

Family Calls For Hospital To Learn Lessons From Tragic & Avoidable Death

24.02.2010

The widow of a 67 year old Rugeley man, who died from internal bleeding after a hospital failed to check his previous medical history and gave him the wrong drugs, has received a five figure sum as an out of court settlement.

Mid Staffordshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has now admitted liability for their mistake, but a leading medical negligence expert is now calling for the troubled hospital trust, which was recently found by an independent inquiry to have ‘shocking standards of care’ to prove that lessons have been learned and procedures have been changed to protect patient safety.

Pensioner James Reay was admitted to Staffordshire Hospital’s A&E department on 19th May 2006 after his GP suspected a swelling in his left leg might be a Deep Vein Thrombosis.

However hospital medics ignored Mr Reay’s previous history of stomach ulcers when they administered the anticoagulant drug, Heparin, which is believed to have caused a serious bleed in his stomach.

Mr Reay was discharged but began vomiting blood on the way home. Two days later he was admitted to neighbouring Stoke Hospital where he was put on emergency dialysis and underwent surgery for gastro intestinal bleeding.

Sadly Mr Reay developed a number of post operative infections and the bleeding continued. He was transferred to the intensive care unit but despite the best efforts of medical staff there, he died on 12th June 2006.

An inquest later recorded a verdict that Mr Reay died from gastro intestinal bleeding as a result of a recognised complication of Heparin.

Sadly Mr Reay’s untimely death at Staffordshire Hospital is not isolated. In March 2009 a report by the Healthcare Commission revealed a catalogue of failings at both Staffordshire Hospital and Cannock Chase Hospital both run by Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust. An independent inquiry has since revealed appalling standards of care put many patients at risk and between 400 and 1,200 more people died than would have been expected in a three year period from 2005 to 2008.

Mandy Luckman, a medical negligence expert with Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, represented Mr Reay’s family. She explained: “James’ death was tragic and totally avoidable. Although Heparin is usually the drug of choice when treating a suspected DVT, it should not be given to patients with a history of gastric ulcers.

“A subsequent hospital investigation revealed that a junior doctor, who was caring for Mr Reay, did not take into account the very serious risk that Heparin posed and failed to seek advice from a more senior colleague before administering what ultimately proved to be a fatal drug injection.

“Although the Hospital Trust has admitted its mistake, this is an error that should not have happened. The family are keen to ensure that lessons have been learned and we would like to see evidence that the hospital has changed its procedures – in particular the proper supervision of junior clinicians - to ensure no other patient lives are needlessly cut short.”
Mr Reay, previously worked as a miner, although in later life,from the age of 57 he had worked as an administrative clerk.  He leaves behind his wife, Olwen, (69). Sadly, he died a few days before the couple were due to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. He also leaves behind two sons and a daughter.

His widow, Olwen, commented: “I’m extremely angry about what happened. James put his trust in those doctors but he was badly let down. For 22 days he suffered the most terrible pain. It was awful to see him deteriorating day after day. His death came as a shock to the whole family and his children are devastated - it wasn’t his time to go.

“Although the Trust has now admitted it made a mistake, I would like reassurances that this sort of thing will not happen to anyone else. It may be too late for James but I hope that by taking legal action, the hospital will be forced to examine its procedures so that no-one else has to suffer as he did.”