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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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Questions remain unanswered over MRSA death of Carlisle pensioner

Relatives of a 72-year-old paralysed pensioner who died after he was exposed to the MRSA superbug say critical questions about his death remain unanswered.

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Infection: Frank Jewell died at the Cumberland Infirmary of MRSA

The wife and daughter of retired RAF engineer Frank Jewell are critical of health services because records that should have given an important insight into his care were inadequate or missing.

They spoke at the end of a four-day inquest into the death of Mr Jewell, who passed away at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary in June 2010.

Robert Chapman, assistant coroner for north and west Cumbria, has ruled that he died as a result of contracting an undetected MRSA infection which got into his system via a bedsore.

Mr Chapman said that it was likely that he had come into contact with the bug while he was being cared for at his Valley Drive home in Carlisle. During the inquest, the nurse who led his care said that staff were not at the time following national guidelines when it came to keeping written records about bedsores.

However, after the verdict, Mr Jewell’s wife Jean, 75, and daughter Donna Jewell, 51, said that they felt there were still questions which needed answers.

In a statement, they said: “There has been so much information missing that we don’t feel the inquest has given us full closure. The notes taken by carers were too scant and inconsistent.

“We would have expected to see more detail in the reporting so that anyone would be able to look at one report and see chronologically what had happened. Unfortunately, the notes we have are just not detailed enough.”

The statement added that the two were also surprised at the “poor communication” between the different agencies.

Victoria Watson, the family’s solicitor from Burnett’s Medical Law team, said that the family had been left with an incomplete picture because crucial documentation was missing.

She added: “It has been an exhausting week for the family and the issue of the missing documentation has made the process more difficult.”

Mr Jewell was referred to a neurologist in 2008 because of numbness and pains in his limbs and difficulty in walking. He had surgery to relieve compression of his spinal cord, but was left paralysed – recognised as a potential risk from such surgery.

He was given a package of home care, with visits from carers and district nurses, and had been identified as being at a high risk of developing bedsores.

In his ruling, Mr Chapman said he was not critical of the standard of care that Mr Jewell had received at home and added that he had often refused treatment if he was suffering from pain.

He said that Mr Jewell had probably been exposed to the MRSA bug while he was being treated at home and the pressure sore had not been seen because Mr Jewell had refused treatment.

In recording his formal conclusion, Mr Chapman said that the cause of Mr Jewell’s death was an MRSA infection which got into his bloodstream via a bedsore.

Mr Chapman said: “On June 26 he was taken to Cumberland Infirmary and he died there during the early hours of June 27.”

He added that it was clear that Mr Jewell was developing the infection and the last time the sore had been inspected was on June 23.

“The nurses thought there was no obvious problem,” he said. “Unfortunately on June 25 he refused treatment because he was in pain. It seems to have been likely that had they seen the sore it would have been apparent that it was infected.”

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