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Family say they feel hospital could have done more to prevent mum’s death

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: July 15, 2014

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THE family of a woman who died following a fall at Burton’s Queen’s Hospital say it should not have taken a life to be lost for protocol to be reviewed.

At the inquest into the death of 84-year-old Edna Nicholas, coroner Andrew Haigh recorded a verdict of death by natural causes after the mother of three, who lived in Wychnor before moving to a care home in Tamworth, was suffering with bronchopneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and urosepsis.

However, while receiving treatment in the hospital, she suffered two falls, the second of which saw her undergo an operation for a broken hip. It was noted that, as a result, her body was unable to cope, contributing to her death.

She had originally attended her appointment at the diabetic clinic, but was kept in by doctors concerned about her health. Her daughters Damaris and Rebecca say that they are pleased the hospital has taken action to address its fall risk assessment but they were not consulted by staff regarding their mother’s past history of falling and questioned why she was not moved to a safer position on the ward after suffering the first fall which caused bruising to her face and arm. Damaris said: “It’s just a shame that it has taken someone to lose their life for this to come to the attention of the hospital. We knew my mum was at risk of falling, and it happened twice while she was in Queen’s.”

Rebecca added: “She wasn’t taking on much fluid, which made her become more confused and as a result she was trying to get out of bed. I also find it hard to believe she was taking medication orally as she struggled with tablets when she was well.”

In a response to the family, chief executive Helen Ashley said : “As a result of this incident it has been confirmed that the ward has reviewed nursing practice and the staff now use a fall assessment tool which will identify patients at risk of falls and appropriate action can now be taken to minimise this risk. However, it is acknowledged that the lack of communication between the staff was suboptimal and impacted on your mother’s care. I can only offer my sincere apologies for this and reassurance that we have recognised this and are addressing this issue with staff.”

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