A family who watched their mother wither away and die from a treatable medical condition has launched legal action against the hospital they blame for her death.
Margaret Ward, 68, spent the last few months of her life in agony as she succumbed to an illness in which blood flow is restricted to the bowel.
Her son Peter claims her life could have been saved had it not been for a series of serious ‘scandalous’ blunders by doctors. The mother-of-four suffered dramatic weight loss which her doctors failed to recognise as a symptom of Mesenteric Ischaemia.
It is claimed that despite presenting with symptoms in June 2012, delays in reaching a diagnosis, performing appropriate tests and miscommunication between medical staff at Warrington Hospital meant her condition was allowed to dramatically deteriorate until the situation became irretrievable and she died in November 2012.
Mr Ward, 47, a shift production operator of Hinton Road in Runcorn said, “My mother’s care was nothing short of a scandal. The more we find out about what happened the more we find things that went wrong. I wish I’d pushed harder to make sure she was being looked after when she was alive but I just assumed the doctors are doing everything they could for my mother.
“But it turns out there was confusion between doctors about who was responsible for her care, what care should be administered and, as a result, symptoms were being missed while all the time her condition was getting worse. We are determined to bring out into the open all the failings and missed opportunities which contributed to my mother’s death.
“How many other people have suffered because of these sorts of failings? We were so concerned that her condition wasn’t being seen, we paid for a private consultant to take a look. He made a suspected diagnosis of Mesenteric Ischaemia; something the other doctors had ruled out. Up to then, we had been told she had symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.”
The father-of-two added, “When my mother died we lost someone who was the centre of the family. She was a wife, a mother-of-four and grandmother to 13; it would have been 14 but she died before she could see the latest grandchild. When she died it tore this family apart. The loss of our mother has had a dramatic impact on the family.
“I think the stress of my father losing his wife of nearly 50 years contributed to him having a serious stroke a few months later massive stroke a few months later, with devastating life changing consequences.”
Numerous allegations of medical negligence have been made against the Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which together accumulated, it is alleged, to cause the death of Mrs Ward.
The medical negligence allegations include missing several crucial warning signs because scans were not detailed enough, failing to operate during early stages of the illness, and misdiagnosing the symptoms. It's also claimed that miscommunication between a number of Consultants and departments caused unnecessary delays in the treatment.
Coroner Geoffrey Roberts issued a report highlighting concerns he had about the hospital following an Inquest in December, last year. Despite ruling Mrs Ward died of natural causes, Mr Roberts’ report stated, “In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken.”
He pointed to a number of occasions where no single medic was put in charge of Mrs Ward’s care, resulting in confusion about who was responsible for the next stage of diagnosis and treatment. Mr Roberts also highlighted, “The lack of continuity of care and the informal arrangements concerning the transfer of care are therefore of concern.”
The Ward’s Solicitor Jennifer Crompton of Slater and Gordon said, “Mrs Ward’s treatment highlights some deeply worrying failures in the systems of care at that hospital. There appears to have been a serious breakdown in communications between Consultants at the start of Mrs Ward’s care which were never properly corrected during her treatment. This breakdown in communication led to significant and eventually fatal delays in Mrs Ward receiving treatment.”
Jennifer Crompton is a Medical Negligence Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Merseyside.
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