17th Jan, 2021

Hospital apologises to widow after husband's final days in hospital were marred by errors

A WIDOW has spoken of her heartache after her husband’s final days in hospital were marred by a litany of mistakes by medical staff.

Things began to go wrong when 76-year-old John Kelly, who lived in Leamington with his wife of more than 40 years Maria, was admitted to University Hospital Coventry in March 2017.

Already suffering from dementia and a long-standing heart condition, Mr Kelly was given the wrong dose of his medication, which set off his pacemaker/defibrillator.

“My husband said the pain was like being kicked in the chest by a donkey,” said Mrs Kelly.

Nothing was said to his wife at the time but she later read about it in his discharge notes.

The following month Mr Kelly woke during the night unable to use his legs and was taken by ambulance back to the hospital. During that night he twice fell out of bed sustaining injuries to his head, arms and legs.

Mrs Kelly said when she left her husband’s bedside that night he was looking well, but when she returned with their daughter Brigid the following morning they could hardly recognise him.

“His face looked crushed, his eyes were blackened and his nose looked broken. Both his arms were bandaged and his legs and feet were cut,” said Mrs Kelly.

“The life went out of me when I saw him. We had been married for 42 years but I had never seen him like that. He was not the man I had seen the night before.”

Mrs Kelly later found out a patient had gone to her husband’s aid after his first fall but had not been able to raise medical staff to help.

He told Mrs Kelly he eventually found two nurses in a room on their break.

But the nursing staff still didn’t deploy the bed-guards and a few hours later, Mr Kelly fell out of the bed for a second time.

Mrs Kelly said: “When my daughter and I tried to get to the bottom of matters we were simply fobbed off.

“We had been told originally that he would be discharged on the Tuesday, either to come home or to go to a rehabilitation hospital. But on that Tuesday a doctor said that John was dying and it was now just a ‘waiting game’. He died on the following Sunday, a week after his admission.”

Mrs Kelly praised the efforts of Claire Kirwan, partner and head of clinical negligence at Leamington law firm Blythe Liggins, who helped bring closure to her husband’s ordeal.

Ms Kirwan said the incidents were entirely due to poor medical care and that UHCW Trust had admitted liability and Mrs Kelly had now received a substantial sum in damages.

Ms Kirwan added: “To allow an elderly patient to fall out of bed once is terrible; to allow it to happen twice in the same night is unforgivable. The injuries Mr Kelly sustained in the falls resulted in his condition going rapidly downhill and caused his final days with his wife and daughter at his bedside to be extremely unpleasant and distressing for all concerned.”

A UHCW spokesman said: “Providing safe, compassionate patient care is our upmost priority at all times.

“The trust would like to apologise to the family of Mr Kelly and extend our heartfelt sympathies to them.

“We would like to offer reassurance that all learning points from Mr Kelly’s experience have been implemented.”

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