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Hospital Staff Fail To Administer Medication For Addison's Disease

Sarah was aged 62 and had been diagnosed with Addison's disease some years previously. She took hydrocortisone medication on a daily basis to control her condition.

Sarah had been advised that if she was ever ill, she would need to take increased doses of the hydrocortisone medication. She also wore a medi-alert identify tag alerting medical staff of her condition in case of an emergency.

Over a period of a few months, Sarah had was admitted to hospital with abdominal pain on several occasions, which was thought to be related to gallstones. During each admission Sarah received increased doses of hydrocortisone medication for her Addison's disease.

Sarah was admitted to hospital for the last time in January 2007 with abdominal pain. As she had done previously, she told the staff that she had Addison’s disease and she also gave staff her last discharge sheet from her previous admission to hospital which set out her health conditions, including the fact that she had Addison’s disease.

Sarah was initially seen in the Accident and Emergency department, and was then transferred to a Gynaecology ward because even though this was not the appropriate ward for Sarah, it was the only one that had a bed available for her.

During the time that Sarah was in the Accident and Emergency department, and also when she had been transferred to the Gynaecology department, Sarah and members of her family separately asked the medical staff when she would receive hydrocortisone medication because they were very concerned that without it Sarah was at risk of becoming very ill.

Despite the fact that Sarah and her family advised the staff on several occasions that Sarah needed increased doses of hydrocortisone medication, and it was documented in Sarah’s medical records that she required hydrocortisone medication, there was a delay of 35 hours following Sarah’s admission before she received the correct dose.

During the 35 hour delay Sarah’s condition deteriorated rapidly and she suffered a cardiac arrest and subsequently multi- organ failure. Sarah sadly died 15 days after her admission. Following Sarah’s death the hospital undertook a Serious Incident Investigation which highlighted several failures on behalf of the hospital. Sarah left her husband John, 3 children and their grandchildren.

Following Sarah’s death, John contacted Irwin Mitchell and he pursued a claim against the hospital with the assistance of Jemma Watson and John was awarded a five figure sum in compensation.

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