Questioning Continues Following Deaths Of Stepping Hill Hospital Patients

Concerns Raised Over Contaminated Saline

22.07.2011

Police in the north-west are continuing to question a nurse as part of an investigation into the deaths of patients at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, after concerns were raised over contaminated saline solution.

While it has not yet been confirmed whether the saline was linked to the deaths three male and two female patients, officers are working with staff at the site to discover how the substance came to be interfered with.

The problems were recognised after bottles of the solution which had been tampered with were found by a member of staff, who also found that some patients on a ward had low blood sugar levels.

Medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell represent many people whose loved ones have been affected by a range of serious care problems. Specialists at the national law firm acted for the families of over 200 families of people murdered by Harold Shipman, while they were also involved in the subsequent public inquiry into how safety standards could be improved to prevent similar problems in the future.

In addition, Linda Smith, a solicitor at the firm’s Leeds office, acted for four families of the victims of Colin Norris – a nurse found guilty in 2008 of killing several patients by administering insulin overdoses while working at Leeds General Infirmary.

Commenting on the investigation into the deaths at Stepping Hill, Linda said: “The families of those affected in this terrible case will undoubtedly be demanding answers over what happened and how it could have been prevented.

“While a criminal investigation is ongoing, it appears that there a number of questions to be asked. The case of Colin Norris led to calls for an assessment of the drug control systems in place at Leeds General Infirmary and it is very possible the same considerations will need to be made at Stepping Hill.

“Ultimately, it is vital that, as in cases like that of Colin Norris and Beverley Allitt, health authorities work quickly and thoroughly to ensure that standards of patient safety are drastically improved.”

Jennifer Cawthorne, a Partner and medical negligence specialist in Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office, added: “Patient safety must always be a priority for the NHS and it is obvious that there are major questions to be asked over how the saline came to be contaminated and whether the problems could have been prevented.

“Time and again we see problems in the care of patients which not only impact on their health but also leave the families of those affected angry and desperate for answers.

“As much information as possible needs to be gathered on this incident with a view to ensuring lessons can be learnt from it, and every effort must be made to prevent the same mistakes from being made in the future.

“This case also highlights just how important it is for medical staff to put the needs and safety of patients first and to remain vigilant of the work being carried out by their colleagues. Hospitals and NHS Trusts should also ensure that the systems they have in place are suited to identifying and tackling potential care problems.”