Woman Died After Hospital Failed To Give Her Correct Medication

Inquest Held Into Death Of Leicester Woman


Medical lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are calling for the NHS to improve its levels of care after a woman admitted to Leicester Royal Infirmary for straightforward surgery died when she was not given necessary medication.

Ann Collis-Smith, 73, from Countesthorpe, Leicester, was admitted to the city’s Royal Infirmary on the 31 December 2007 after fracturing her hip in a fall, and required surgery.

At the time of the accident, Ann was also taking medication for several other conditions, including steroids.  The hospital failed to give Mrs Collis-Smith the required supplemental steroid medication prior to the surgery, and this led to adrenal insufficiency (a condition which affects the body’s ability to regulate organ function).  As a result Mrs Collis-Smith sadly died a few days after surgery.

Leicester Royal Infirmary admitted that it was at fault for Mrs Collis-Smith’s death, and acknowledged that staff had not given her sufficient steroids before the surgery, which in turn directly caused her death.
At the inquest into Mrs Collis-Smith’s death, the Coroner called upon an independent expert who confirmed that the death was probably the result of adrenal insufficiency – a condition in which the adrenal glands do not produce enough steroid hormones to regulate the body’s organs.  This was because Mrs Collis-Smith had not been given the additional steroid medication that she needed at the time of surgery.

Sarah Rowland, an associate in the Medical Law and Patients Rights team at Irwin Mitchell, said: “This case is a tragic one, as it was such a simple and avoidable error which has ultimately led to Mrs Collis-Smith’s death. There is no excuse for not administering the correct medication.  It is totally unacceptable and shows up serious flaws in the levels of care given to Mrs Collis-Smith.

“Sadly we see cases such as this time and time again – where people go into hospital for simple operations but don’t come out due to mistakes that could have been avoided. We represent many families who have found themselves a victim through no fault of their own. This case highlights serious failings from which Leicester Royal Infirmary needs to learn important lessons to prevent the same mistakes being made in the future.”

Mrs Collis-Smith’s husband John said: “What happened to my wife was an absolute disgrace, and there is no excuse for it.

“The hospital may have admitted liability, but that will not bring my wife back. I hope that at the very least this case brings mistakes such as this to light and ensures that nothing like it can ever happen again.”