Heartbroken Widower Urges Lessons Be Learnt
The grieving husband of a woman who died in hospital just six weeks after being admitted with a suspected urinary infection and back pain believes that inadequate care by medical staff could have contributed to her death, and has called for Trust bosses to take steps to ensure others don’t suffer as she did.
The call from heartbroken Keith McLaughlin came after an inquest into the death of his wife of 42 years, Faye, where he voiced concerns that she was just too weak to cope with surgery for a perforated ulcer, a condition Trust doctors agreed probably developed while she was in hospital.
He went on to support calls from medical law experts Irwin Mitchell for the hospital to learn lessons from the case amidst fears the 60-year-old’s deteriorating health and eventual death in July 2010 was partly caused by the inadequate care she received while at the Weston General Hospital in Weston-super-Mare.
An inquest today at Bristol Coroners Court heard that Mrs McLaughlin from Banwell, Somerset who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease, was first taken to hospital by ambulance complaining of back pain following a series of falls at her home in Banwell in May 2010.
Doctors diagnosed a urinary infection and gave her pain killers and a course of physiotherapy for her back but Mr McLaughlin says that her condition deteriorated badly over the next few days, saying that she was nauseous, vomiting and her stomach swelled up so badly that ‘she looked six months pregnant’.
A week after being admitted, he was told his wife was suffering from acute kidney failure, a serious systemic infection and a perforated stomach ulcer and, despite acknowledgment that she was not well enough to undergo surgery, that doctors had no choice but to operate on her to try and repair the perforation.
The surgery was unsuccessful and Mrs McLaughlin then had to have most of her stomach removed in a second operation, but her condition continued to worsen and, after six weeks in intensive care, she died on July 21st.
Bristol Coroner Maria Voisin said that questions of negligence were outside the scope of her inquiry, but concluded that a natural causes verdict would not properly reflect the circumstances of the case. The coroner gave a narrative verdict recording that Mrs McLaughlin died after she failed to recover from her surgery.
Commenting after the one day hearing, Mr McLaughlin’s solicitor Jonathan Peacock, Partner and specialist in medical negligence and inquest law at Irwin Mitchell in Bristol, said Mrs McLaughlin’s death raised serious questions over the standards of care she had received and said her husband remained determined to find out how she was allowed to die.
He said: “This tragic and potentially avoidable death has left deprived a devoted husband of a wife he had adored for 42 years. Mr McLaughlin remains convinced that failings in care cost his wife any chance of recovering from her illness.
“ The evidence we heard at the inquest supported a number of Mr McLaughlin’s concerns and he now wants to ensure that any failings in his wife’s care are highlighted in order to reduce the likelihood of something like this happening again.
Peacock added: “Though pleased that the coroner’s enquiry enabled us to examine the facts of this case in detail Mr McLaughlin remains determined to shed light on the failures in his wife’s care.”
Mr McLaughlin said: “It was heart-breaking to lose Faye and heart-breaking to see her suffer in the way she did in her last few weeks. I will never get over her loss. She was my world for 42 years of happy marriage and will always be my world.
“I had to watch helplessly day after day while she deteriorated and in my eyes and my family eyes, her death was down to a failure in her care. The inquest has given us some of the answers we have waited so desperately for, but there are still many questions unanswered and we intend to continue our battle for justice in her name.
“No amount of money can ever bring my wife back and I have to live with that, but I am determined that her death will at least serve as a lesson to the hospital and the NHS. They have to learn from this. I don’t want anyone ever to go through what Faye went through and what I have been through ever again.”