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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Coroner slams 'substandard' care given to Whitehaven OAP

A coroner has slammed the “substandard” care given to pensioner, but has stopped short of saying that it caused her death.

Elizabeth Berwick photo
Elizabeth Berwick

Related: Health chiefs say sorry for below standard of care for OAP - inquest

Robert Chapman said that Elizabeth Berwick, 85, suffered a “lack of care” while at Pow Beck care home in Whitehaven to treat a severe bed sore she had developed. This included not having her sleeping position adjusted regularly enough and a delay in administering antibiotics.

However, Mr Chapman ruled that the sore, which turned into an infected wound, did not directly lead to her death in March 2011.

Recording a narrative verdict, Mr Chapman said: “I am concerned that the sore was not recognised and treated [at Pow Beck] but I cannot say it was the cause of her death.”

A post-mortem revealed that further to the grade four bed sore – the most severe type – Mrs Berwick died of internal bleeding and a urinary tract infection. Medics were unable to say what impact the sore alone had on her death given her age and other frailties.

The coroner added that record-keeping discrepancies at Pow Beck were “reprehensible” but found again that this failure did not cause Mrs Berwick’s death.

Mrs Berwick, of Lincoln Road, Whitehaven, was taken into the West Cumberland Hospital following a collapse at home in December 2010.

She had a pacemaker fitted and was transferred to the Cumbria County Council-owned Pow Beck, in Mirehouse, on February 7.

After suffering with the bed sore and bowel problems, she returned to hospital after less than three weeks in the home and died four days later.

At Pow Beck, Mr Chapman found that a number of documents, including care plans and risk assessments, were “clearly inaccurate and misleading” – many with signature or date discrepancies – and urged the county council to investigate.

He singled out district nurse Janice Thompson for her “substandard care” and “atrocious paperwork” while responsible for Mrs Berwick in Pow Beck, adding: “Nurse Thompson should have been aware of Mrs Berwick’s deterioration but she failed to deal with it. Hers were not the actions of a professional district nurse.”

The inquest heard that nurse Thompson had been the subject of disciplinary proceedings following Mrs Berwick’s death.

Mr Chapman, however, extended thanks to a number of Pow Beck workers and community nurses, particularly Michelle King, for their “admirable” work.

Mrs Berwick was described by son Thomas as “a woman who lived for her family”.

The inquest heard that improvements had been made at Pow Beck in light of Mrs Berwick’s death, including better training in pressure sores care.

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