Inquest Into Death Of Paraplegic Great Grandfather Finds Hospital Trust Neglected His Care
The distraught family of a man who died when ‘woefully lacking’ hospital care caused him to develop grade four infected pressure sores have spoken out for the first time of their heartache calling for lessons to be learnt following an inquest into his death that today (15 June) recorded a verdict of neglect.
Father-of-three Anthony Fluendy from West Kingsdown, Kent, was paraplegic after suffering a spinal cord injury aged just nine and went into Darent Valley Hospital in Kent on 4 May 2010 after suffering a minor stroke.
He was identified as being at high risk of developing pressure sores due to being unable to support himself in bed or turn himself over, but he tragically died weeks later on 18 June, aged 74, of MRSA and sepsis - infection and blood poisoning - after clear failings were made by the hospital.
Desperate for answers, his three distraught daughters contacted medical law specialists at Irwin Mitchell who successfully won a battle for justice at the end of last year when Dartford and Gravesham Hospitals NHS Trust apologised to the family.
The trust admitted that there were ‘failures of communication and documentation’, ‘staff were not as well trained as they should have been’ and that the care given was ‘woefully lacking’.
During an inquest at Gravesend Coroner’s Court today, the Coroner Roger Hatch recorded a narrative verdict and said Dartford and Gravesham Hospitals NHS Trust neglected to treat Mr Fluendy.
Now, the family are speaking out for the first time and are urging Dartford and Gravesham Hospitals NHS Trust to prove that lessons have been learnt to prevent anyone else going through the same heartache.
Speaking on behalf of the family, daughter Julie from Dartford, said: “We were devastated and incensed by the seemingly uncaring attitude of many of the staff at the hospital and the apparent lack of basic nursing skills and kindness. There is no reasonable excuse for anyone to get pressure sores in this day and age due to the advances in technological equipment.
“It was horrific and heartbreaking to witness our father die a slow and agonising death which was totally avoidable.
“Although this has been a very difficult time for us we know nothing can turn back the clock and bring our father back. We only hope the hospital trust has learnt from the mistakes made by staff throughout our dad’s care and make sure the same things can’t happen again.”
Mr Fluendy, who made parts in the motor industry and was widowed in 2008, had walked using crutches since suffering a spinal cord injury at age nine. In his 60s, his shoulder muscles had weakened severely, meaning he had to use a wheelchair and was unable to support himself in bed or turn over.
Although he recovered from his stroke within 10 days, and could have returned home on 21st May 2010, his family were told he had to stay in hospital because social services felt he needed additional support at home but had not completed the necessary paperwork.
A catalogue of errors then unfolded, ultimately causing Mr Fluendy’s death:
- He was given a pressure relieving mattress, designed to reduce the risk of pressure sores, but the hospital staff didn’t notice when it stopped working.
- The Tissue Viability Nurse (TVN), responsible for managing pressure sores, didn’t examine Mr Fluendy until he had been suffering the agonising sores for over two weeks, because she had been on holiday and the other TVN was deemed ‘inexperienced’.
- When the pressure sores were finally recognised, the staff failed to treat and/or manage them appropriately.
As a result, the pressure sores got worse and became infected with MRSA, leading to sepsis. Tragically, Mr Fluendy became increasingly ill and died on 18th June 2010.
Anita Jewitt, a medical law expert from Irwin Mitchell’s London office represented the family in their civil claim. She said: “Time and time again we deal with cases where patient’s have been tragically killed or left with permanent injuries as a result of hospital staff’s negligence.
“Mr Fluendy should not have been allowed to develop pressure sores whilst in hospital, particularly given his ‘high risk’ status and his daughters should not have to be dealing with such a tragic death. I hope the inquest today has provided further answers to them about what happened to their father in his final days.
“Mr Fluendy’s pressure sores were extensive and had been allowed to develop over a period of time which ultimately caused his death. I am pleased that we managed to secure a full admission of liability and a full apology from the Trust, and while this can never make up for what has happened, I can only hope that lessons have been learnt and standards improved to ensure this does not happen again.”
Julie added: “Our father had always been a very strong independent man who had worked hard all his life to support his family despite being paralysed in both legs from the age of nine.
“He had never let his disability get the better of him and had always maintained an amazingly positive outlook on life. Everyone who knew him always saw him laughing and joking and you never heard him complain. Even after our mother passed away in January 2008 our father continued to live at home on his own for the next two years. He never saw his disability as a handicap to his independence. We miss him terribly and hope steps are taken to prevent anyone else suffering the same loss.”
If you or a loved one has suffered due to a spinal injury, our specialist serious injury claims team could help you to claim compensation. Read our Spinal Injury Claims page for more information.