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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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Family claim catalogue of failings killed mum

A family were horrified by a “catalogue of failures” at West Cumberland Hospital, which they claim killed their elderly mother, an inquest has heard.

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Related: Gaps in hospital care contributed to woman's death, inquest told

Dorothy Ross, 75, of Cleator Moor Road, in Whitehaven, died in hospital on April 18 last year. The day before she had fallen at her home, fracturing her left hip and wrist.

Her children, Gillian Mudie and Ian Ross, gave evidence on day three of the inquest into her death, expressing concerns about failings at the Whitehaven hospital and the administration of the medication their mother was given.

This week the inquest has heard that prior to surgery, Mrs Ross was taken off the anticoagulant Warfarin – which she was already taking, and was given vitamin K followed by Heparin.

When delayed blood test results were made available, they showed high levels of Heparin in her system and she was taken off it. Shortly after Mrs Ross suffered a respiratory arrest. She died that afternoon.

But, at yesterday’s hearing, Mrs Mudie and Mr Ross claimed they were only told about Heparin being administered to their mother, at a meeting with hospital staff weeks after her death.

They say it was at the same meeting they were also told about failures across all departments and that Heparin was a significant factor in Mrs Ross’ death.

Details of a serious investigation report was given at Thursday’s hearing by Dr Jeremy Rushmer, medical director of the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, which runs the West Cumberland Hospital. It highlighted numerous failings by the hospital and made five recommendations for the Trust to implement.

Mrs Mudie said she was “horrified” by the report findings.

She said: “From the moment she went in there, from start to finish, there was a catalogue of failings that killed her.

“She was my best friend and I know she would want me to do everything in my power to prevent other families going through the same hell we have had to live with and are still having to live with.”

Mr Ross welcomed the recommendations, but said: “What concerns me is how they are going to implement the recommendations – with staffing levels and out-of-hours services. A human can only ever be in one place at a time.”

He said he does not want to see another incident, involving Heparin, happening again.

The pair told the inquest of the shock of Mrs Ross’ death, as they were told she was set to undergo hip surgery, and blood tests would be taken to ensure she was suitable for surgery.

Mrs Mudie said she spoke to her mother, on numerous occasions, including the morning of April 18 and she “seemed relaxed and not in pain”.

But Mrs Mudie said she was shocked to receive a phone call over an hour later from hospital staff to say her mother had “taken a turn for the worst”.

When the family attended hospital they were told Mrs Ross had a cardiac arrest and had been resuscitated. A CT scan showed she had a bleed in her head.

Mrs Ross was taken off the life support machine and died that afternoon.

Speaking about her mother, Mrs Mudie, said: “She was a character. She was full of life. She had quite a bubbly personality. She loved chatting with friends and family and she loved being independent. She loved her own home and pottering in the garden. She would jump on the bus to meet up with friends. She loved spending time with the family. She was just a lovely, vibrant, caring woman.”

The inquest will resume on August 11.

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