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Friday, 22 August 2014

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Carlisle hospital sent grieving family wrong medical notes

A grieving family was sent medical notes belonging to three hospital patients who were nothing to do with them.

Bosses at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary have since vowed the blunder involving Egremont man Harold Bailey’s records won’t happen again.

An inquest into Mr Bailey’s death heard how the 80-year-old’s children had requested his medical notes from the hospital following his death in July 2012.

But, despite repeated requests from the family and the coroner, the hospital insisted they could not find the notes.

Giving evidence, Mr Bailey’s daughter Helen Messenger said they finally received a bundle of documents, including the missing notes, from the hospital six months later.

The papers also included information about three other named patients who were nothing to do with them, she added.

Mrs Messenger said: “This delay in producing the hospital notes has caused unnecessary distress.”

She also described the ordeal as “extremely traumatic” and said the missing notes could only have been at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle – the only other place her father was cared for.

Mrs Messenger also paid tribute to her father, describing him as an “independent family man who didn’t rely on anybody”.

The hearing, in Carlisle, also heard from the hospital’s temporary project manager for health records, Catherine White.

Although she was unable to comment specifically on Mr Bailey’s case as it had happened before she took on the role, she insisted changes have now been made to make sure it doesn’t happen again, adding that improvements are being made to the tracking of patient records.

The inquest heard how Mr Bailey, of Braithwaite Court, Egremont, a retired labourer, had undergone a major heart bypass at the Freeman Hospital in June 2012.

But afterwards he caught two hospital bugs and developed a skin infection, which were all treated and cleared up.

He was transferred to the Cumberland Infirmary a month later where his condition rapidly deteriorated after suffering multiple organ failure and a heart attack.

He died with his family by his side in hospital on July 27.

Mr Bailey’s family had requested copies of his medical records to find out how the infections had affected him, the inquest heard.

They also wanted to clarify whether he had suffered a fall while in hospital as an x-ray shortly before his death showed an abnormality of his pelvis.

But David Roberts, coroner for north and west Cumbria, in recording his verdict, said he was satisfied that the infections and abnormality of Mr Bailey’s pelvis did not contribute towards his death.

Mr Roberts concluded that the medical cause of Mr Bailey’s death was a combination of heart disease, multiple organ failure and a heart attack.

He recorded a verdict of death by natural causes following heart surgery.

Mr Roberts added that it wasn’t necessary to write to the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust regarding the medical notes bungle as steps to address it had already been taken.

But he said: “It has been a problem and something we would not like to re-occur.

“We hope we won’t be in the same position in future as it has caused the family considerable distress.”

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