Hospital Trust Admits Mum-Of-Five and Grandmother-Of-12 Should Have Been Referred For Urgent Review
A widower has spoken out after a Hospital Trust admitted not sending his wife for an urgent review before she died as a result of a perforated bowel.
Norma Saunders was taken by ambulance to Plymouth's Derriford Hospital after experiencing eight days of abdominal pain during which she had contacted GPs for advice four times. Following an X-ray, the result of which should have been classed as abnormal, she was sent home.
However Norma, of Ivybridge, Devon, was found collapsed at home hours later by her husband Terrence. She was taken back to hospital where she was diagnosed with the bowel infection peritonitis. The mother of-five and grandmother-of-12 underwent emergency surgery but developed sepsis – when the body attacks itself in response to an infection.
She died 10 days later, aged 76
Family asks lawyers for help following mum's death following peritonitis
Following her death Terrence, 77, and his family instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care.
Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust admitted a breach of duty and that Norma’s care fell below expected standards. It acknowledged that Norma’s X-ray should have been picked up as abnormal, and given her symptoms, she should have been urgently referred to surgeons.
The Medical Defence Union agreed to pay the family an undisclosed settlement on behalf of a GP who visited Norma at home four days before and spoke to her on the phone hours before she was admitted to hospital. The doctor denied liability through the MDU.
Expert Opinion“Terrence and the rest of Norma’s family have faced an incredibly difficult few years. Understandably they had a number of concerns about the circumstances that unfolded in the lead up to her death.
“While nothing can make up for their loss we are pleased to have secured Norma’s family the answers they deserved.
“A perforated bowel is an extremely dangerous condition which can be life-threatening. We hope that medical professionals can now learn lessons from what happened to Norma to improve patient care.” James Pink - Associate Solicitor
Hospital sent patient home instead of sending her for urgent review
Norma, who had a history of diverticulosis - a condition where small tears in the bowel can emerge - started experiencing severe abdominal pain on 29 October, 2017. Following a call to the NHS 111 helpline, the former NHS auxiliary nurse and carer, was visited at home by a GP and prescribed medication to relieve stomach cramps.
Over the next eight days Norma continued to experience pain. On 2 November she was visited at home by another GP who also had a phone consultation with Norma on 6 November.
At about 10.25pm on 6 November, Norma called the 111 helpline was taken to Derriford Hospital. Following test, including an X-ray she was sent home the next day.
Gran diagnosed with perforated bowel and sepsis after readmission
Terrence, a former boiler engineer, found Norma collapsed on the floor at about 7.20pm. She was readmitted to hospital where she was diagnosed with a perforated bowel. She underwent surgery but her condition continued to deteriorate. Norma died on 17 November.
Terrence said: “Norma tried to follow the advice she was given but nothing seemed to be working and her pain seemed to be getting worse.
“It was that bad that she remained in a bed at lot of the time. It got to the point that we knew we needed to seek more advice."
“We were surprised when she was told she could go home from hospital but to then see her collapsed on the floor in agony was terrible.
Devastated husband doesn't want others to go through what his family has
“It was devastating when the hospital then told us that Norma’s condition was life-threatening. Seeing her hooked up to all those machines as she tried to cling on to life is something we will never forget.
“Norma was so family orientated and was never happier spending time with everyone or gardening. We’ve all struggled to come to terms with her death and the hole it’s left in our family.
“We know nothing can ever make up for what happened to Norma but at least we have been able to honour her memory by establishing answers as to what happened to her. We just hope others don’t have to go through what our family has.”