Northern Ireland news

'Serious failings' found by watchdog in care of hospital patient

Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman Marie Anderson handled a complaint from the husband of a woman who died in a Coleraine hospital and discovered serious failings
Seanín Graham

A WATCHDOG investigation has found "multiple and serious failings" by the Northern health trust in the care of a hospital patient who died from organ failure.

The Ombudsman probe also found that had proper treatment been given to the woman at Causeway hospital in Coleraine, her chances of survival "may have been improved".

While the identity of the patient was not disclosed, yesterday's report revealed a catalogue of mistakes including "lengthy delays" in administering antibiotics and failure to provide adequate nutrition and liquids.

The woman's husband made a complaint to the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman office following her death in September 2015.

The patient, who was suffering from liver disease and seriously ill when she was admitted to hospital, should have immediately undergone a vital test for bacterial infections that involved removing a sample of fluid from her abdomen.

However, hospital records show that the procedure was delayed for 12 days, which meant she couldn't be treated with the appropriate medication quickly enough.

Ombudsman Marie Anderson concluded that there were "multiple and serious failures in the care and treatment of the patient".

"This was a sad case in which the patient's limited chances for survival from her illness were dependent on her receiving timely and appropriate care. However, my investigation found a number of significant failures by the trust and its clinicians," she said.

"Although I cannot conclude that her death was avoidable, I have no doubt that prompt treatment of potential sepsis and the provision of appropriate fluids and nutrition would have improved her chances of survival".

Ms Anderson recommended that the trust pay £10,000 to the family in recognition of the "upset, frustration, and distress caused".

She also proposed that the complainant and his family receive a personal apology from the Northern health trust's chief executive, Dr Tony Stevens, and from each of the medics involved in the case.

The trust said it acknowledged the failures identified in the report and accepted the recommendations.

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