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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

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Former RAF engineer died from MRSA bug, inquest told

A retired RAF aircraft engineer, left paralysed after a neck operation, developed bed sores that led to him developing the deadly MRSA superbug.

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Infection: Frank Jewell died at the Cumberland Infirmary of MRSA

Frank Jewell, 72, died at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle in June 2010, the first day of his inquest in Carlisle heard yesterday.

In the weeks before his death, he was being cared for by a combination of community carers and district nurses, who had the day-to-day responsibility for managing his medical issues, including the risk from bedsores.

But the nurse who led his care told the hearing that staff were not at the time following national guidelines when it came to keeping written records about bedsores – though she denied a suggestion that some of those involved in Mr Jewell’s care did not wear latex gloves to reduce infection risks.

The inquest was given a medical history of Mr Jewell’s last years by his GP Dr Graham Peter Adam.

He described how the pensioner, of Valley Drive, Carlisle, was referred to a neurologist in 2008 because of numbness and pains in his limbs and difficulty in walking.

He had an operation to relieve compression of his spinal cord, but was unfortunately left paralysed – recognised as a potential risk from the surgery. He was discharged from hospital to a specialist care regime to his home but underwent repeated hospital admissions because of infections.

He last went in to hospital on June 26, 2010 after becoming increasingly unwell with the symptoms of an infection and died there the following day.

Dr Adam said that in all likelihood the MRSA infection that killed Mr Jewell had been acquired in hospital.

Earlier, the hearing heard evidence from district nursing sister Hazell Graham, who retired last year.

She said carers from the care provider Applegarth would visit Mr Jewell four times a day to attend to his personal hygiene while district nurses would carry out medical care, including monitoring him for bedsores, which were a high risk given his inability to move.

The inquest heard that one nurse who saw Mr Jewell on June 25, 2010, reported that he refused treatment because he was in pain, so she was unable to review his pressure sore.

Mrs Graham said that pain may not have been from his pressure sores.

Assistant coroner Robert Chapman said that Mr Jewell’s widow Jean, 75, had reported providing gloves to carers and district nurses when he was first discharged home from hospital. Mrs Graham said: “Gloves were provided by district nurses. They were in dressing packs.”

The coroner also said that Mrs Jewell said in her statement that she saw district nurses in her home not wearing the latex gloves. “I’d be surprised by that,” replied Mrs Graham. She always wore gloves and washed her hands after any contact with the patient, she said.

Mrs Graham conceded that less severe pressure sores were not routinely recorded in patient notes at the time of Mr Jewell’s death – contrary to national clinical guidelines.

Before the inquest, Mrs Jewell, who is being represented by the Cumbrian law firm Burnetts, said: “We had been married for more than 50 years when Frank died and I feel that our life together has been taken away.”

The hearing continues.

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