Legal Experts Call For Lessons To Be Learned
The devastated family of a woman fatally injured in a fall from the top floor of Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield are calling for lessons to be learned following her death.
Michaela Fowler from Overton, Wakefield, suffered from COPD and osteoporosis. She was admitted to hospital in June 2018 after complaining of breathing difficulties. Her husband Stephen, now 65, said that she was also showing signs of delirium and displaying strange behaviour.
She died the following day, aged 60. She had fallen four floors from the top of the hospital’s main building stairwell.
Following her death, Stephen and sons Michael and Daniel, now aged 29 and 32, instructed medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the care Michaela received under Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Pinderfields Hospital.
The family are now calling for lessons to be learned.
It comes after a report from Niche Health and Social Care Consulting stated that Michaela’s death “may have been preventable” if national guidance on the management of delirium was “clearer and more decisive in how interventions should be managed” and if staff were “familiar and trained in the use of this guidance.” The report recommended a review and re-launch of the delirium guidelines at the Trust along with training on the identification, treatment and management of delirium.
The family’s legal team has now secured an undisclosed settlement from Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust in connection with Michaela’s death. This follows on from an admission by the Trust that once it had been decided that Michaela needed one to one care, “she should not have been left alone at any stage”, adding that “leaving her alone constitutes a breach of duty.” It further admitted that had she not been left alone, “on the balance of probabilities she would not have left the ward” and her fall “would have been avoided.”
Expert Opinion“It’s almost three years since Stephen and the rest of the family lost Michaela, and they’re understandably still devastated by their loss.
While nothing will ever make up for what happened or bring Michaela back, we’re pleased to have helped provide Stephen and his sons with the answers they deserve so they can start to try and move forward with their lives as best they can.
We also urge that lessons are learned from Michaela’s tragic death to improve patient safety and ensure that other families don’t have to suffer like this.”
Sanna Mazhar - Solicitor
On 12 June, 2018, Michaela was taken to Pinderfields Hospital by ambulance. She was accompanied by Stephen, the Managing Director of a local business, who had expressed concerns over his wife’s mental state. He said she had been confused and exhibiting abnormal behaviours.
She was reviewed by the Trust’s acute assessment unit and her delirium was thought to be a result of her COPD.
Michaela was subsequently admitted to a ward. A nurse was required to change bedding and left the mum-of-two alone for ‘a few minutes’, the NICHE report states. At this point, Michaela exited the ward.
Shortly afterwards, she was found to have fallen from the top floor of the hospital. Resuscitation was attempted, but she was pronounced dead during the early hours of 14 June as a result of the injuries sustained in the fall.
Stephen, who was married to Michaela for 32 years, said: “Losing Michaela so suddenly and tragically left the family devastated and I still think about her every day.
“Michaela and I were going to live out the rest of our years together and that’s been taken from us in the worst way. To know how much Daniel and Michael miss their mum is heartbreaking. I really wish I could turn back the clock and stop it from happening, but I know that isn’t possible.
“All I can hope for now is that something is learnt from this to stop other families from facing such pain and suffering as I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.”
Daniel, Michaela's eldest son, added: “Whilst the care my mum received during her time at Pinderfields was woefully inadequate, we are grateful for the way the Trust has handled this ever since – acting sensitively, professionally and responsively throughout. A particular thank you goes to the team at Irwin Mitchell for fighting for my mum every step of the way. She would be proud.”
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