Durham Mother: “Hospital Sent My Son Home To Die”

Lawyer Insists Lessons Must Be Learnt As NHS Bosses Admit Early Discharge From Hospital Contributed To Death Of 32-Year-Old Man


Lawyers representing a devastated Durham mother say ‘serious lessons’ must be learnt after hospital bosses admitted the premature discharge of her seriously ill son contributed to his death.

Clinical negligence specialists at law firm Irwin Mitchell are fighting for Edith Blacklock, whose 32-year-old son Martin Blacklock was wrongly discharged from the University Hospital of North Durham on December 3rd 2009.

And solicitor Lindsey Henderson, who is representing the distraught mum, has secured an admission from County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust that the premature discharge led to a significant decline in Mr Blacklock’s condition, from which he could not recover.

Now, Edith Blacklock, who has one other daughter, has spoken of the heartbreak at losing her son and has sworn to continue the legal fight in a bid to ‘educate others’ about the importance of not being afraid to challenge medical opinion in cases where patients strongly feel they are not being treated correctly.

Mr Blacklock had been receiving in-patient treatment for ulcerative colitis, a serious bowel complaint, since 30th November 2009, and was still in agonising pain and barely able to walk as he was escorted away from hospital three days later.

He was prescribed steroids but remained in agony while his condition deteriorated for almost three weeks – by the time he returned to hospital on December 23rd he had suffered serious complications and it was too late to save him. A series of emergency operations followed in early 2010 but he died on February 23rd.

Lindsey Henderson said expert reports showed these operations could have saved Mr Blacklock’s life if they had been carried at the start of December when he was incorrectly discharged.

Mrs Blacklock said: “No parent expects to lose a child, but we have to live the rest of our lives knowing that our son would have lived if he had been treated correctly.

“No words can really say how we feel – he was a special son who was so full of life and we miss him so much. Our son underwent five painful operations in such a short space of time – he was suffering, in absolute agony, and died the most horrific death.

“No parent should have to witness their child dying in this way and we want to send a message to others – don’t be afraid to question and challenge decisions made by those in the medical profession.

“We didn’t know what was wrong with Martin but we could see how ill he was – he wasn’t a complainer and never made a fuss, but it was obvious that something was seriously wrong. We felt very much that it was more of a priority to free up another bed in the hospital than it was to treat my son correctly – I feel as though he was sent home to die.

“I promised to Martin on the day he died that I would seek justice and this admission of fault is a major step towards this.”

Lindsey Henderson added: “Although the hospital trust has now admitted serious shortcomings in Mr Blacklock’s care that will be of little consolation to the family. They felt as if they were forced to watch their son die an incredibly painful death and Mr and Mrs Blacklock have been left with a void in their life that will never be replaced.

“He was a strapping, healthy man and ulcerative colitis occurs in about 1 in 500 people – this was not a particularly rare condition and treating it should have been routine. But instead of being operated on, Mr Blacklock was discharged from hospital and sent home where his condition rapidly worsened, leaving him in such poor health that very little could be done to save his life. We only hope that lessons are learned from this.”