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NHS Trust Admits Breach Of Its Duty Of Care Of Diabetes Patient Left With Brain Injury

Loved Ones Mark World Diabetes Day With Call For Lessons To Be Learned


James Clarke, Press Officer | +44 (0)161 838 3169

The family of a diabetic patient are speaking out for World Diabetes Day after an NHS Trust has admitted it failed to meet its duty of care when treating her.

Mavis Walsh, 77 from Eccles, was admitted to Salford Royal Hospital at the start of October 2015 after suffering what her family believed was a reaction to a recent flu jab. 

Her family were not informed of any changes to her insulin dosage following the stay, but they had noticed afterwards that she seemed more lethargic than usual. However, they were left stunned when just weeks later she was found in a diabetic coma.

Mavis suffered a brain injury as a result of the incident and a subsequent internal investigation by Salford Royal NHS Trust concluded that ‘an excessive increase’ in her insulin dose had been recommended during her discharge from hospital without any necessary support being put in place.

After instructing medical negligence specialists at Irwin Mitchell, the family has received an admission from the NHS Trust.

The Trust admitted that as a result of the breach of duty of care Mavis ‘suffered an episode of hypoglycaemia which resulted in injury.’ It also said that ‘had the impact of increasing the insulin dose been appropriately monitored, on the balance of probabilities she would not have suffered a severe episode of hypoglycaemia.’

Mark Havenhand, the legal expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office who is acting for Mavis’s family, said: 

Expert Opinion
“We are hugely concerned by the first-hand account we have heard regarding this case, with an active and healthy woman suffering a devastating injury from which she will never fully recover.

“Diabetes is a condition which affects a large number of people and requires delicate and precise management. Patients place great faith in medical experts that they will get the right support and a case of this nature may only serve to undermine that trust.

“The issues raised are a great worry and we are thoroughly investigating the circumstances related to it. The ultimate aim is that lessons can be learned which will ensure such problems never arise again in the future.”
Mark Havenhand, Partner

Mavis has had diabetes since the early 1990s but she was hospitalised at Salford Royal on October 7th 2015 when she was suffering from a temperature and was disorientated. 

Her daughter, Elizabeth Lupton, 39, from Worsley, said: “Mum was not herself but we had all just assumed it was from a reaction to a flu jab. When I picked her up from hospital I was not told if that was the case though, while I certainly was not informed of any changes to her insulin.

“We went on holiday together shortly afterwards and we did notice she was not herself. There was even an occasion when she fell out of bed unconscious. It was horrible seeing her like that and when we got home we tried to get in touch with her consultant, but struggled to reach him.”

The problems Mavis was enduring came to a head when on October 31st her husband Kevin Walsh, 72, found her unresponsive in bed. It subsequently emerged that she was in a diabetic coma, with the condition causing her to suffer a brain injury.

Elizabeth added: “It has been incredibly difficult seeing how the injury has affected Mum. She was always very active and used to look after my son on several days a week, but now she needs regular carer support herself in order to do even the most basic tasks like getting dressed. She also cannot retain information and has a really low attention span.

“We were angry and frustrated with the support we got while she was in hospital, but I always found the staff to be so dismissive. I even asked them how Mum suffered the coma but they always put the emphasis on the fact that the priority was to help her get better.

“The issues with insulin dosage which were highlighted in the report left us stunned and we feel that Mum deserves justice regarding how her condition could be so badly managed. 

World Diabetes Day, an initiative of the International Diabetes Foundation, is marked every year on 14th November. The aim is to spread the message about diabetes and raise awareness of the condition.

Elizabeth concluded: “We are speaking out on World Diabetes Day because, while nothing can change what she has been through, our ultimate hope is that all NHS Trusts can learn lessons which prevent the same problems from happening again.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's medical negligence cases.