Head of Davies and Partners’ specialist Clinical Negligence team Ewan Lockhart, has been acting for the family of a 54 year old woman from Middlesex, who died in 2013, following a catalogue of errors while she was being treated at St George’s Hospital in Tooting.
St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has settled a claim which was brought by Janet Wooding’s Husband. However, despite the settlement, her daughter Dionne Wooding is concerned that standards of care at the hospital still need serious review and investigation. Dionne believes her mother’s death could have been avoided if simple checks had been carried out and if the nurses and junior doctors had communicated properly with the senior consultants at the Hospital.
Mrs Wooding was transferred to St George’s Hospital in September 2013, having been operated on for a brain aneurysm which had led to an abscess on her brain. This was treated with antibiotics. Whilst undergoing the treatment Mrs Wooding developed a rare condition known as metabolic acidosis, which occurs when the body produces excessive quantities of acid or when the kidneys are not removing enough acid from the body.
Whilst the condition was noted by the attending junior doctors, they did not alert any of the consultants in charge of Mrs Wooding’s care. The also omitted to advise the staff who took over the care for Mrs Wooding over the weekend of the 21-22 September 2013.
As the consultants treating Mrs Wooding were unaware of her condition, they planned to carry out surgery on her to close her skull operation wound. As she was being prepared for surgery, the consultant anaesthetist did discover the metabolic acidosis, but he elected to proceed with the surgery. Following the operation, Mrs Wooding’s metabolic acidosis deteriorated and she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit but sadly she died a few days later on 27 September 2013.
After Mrs Wooding’s death, St George’s Hospital undertook a Serious Incident Investigation Report which was 67 pages long. The report highlighted failures in assessing Mrs Wooding’s metabolic acidosis and in the communication between the junior and senior doctors.
At an inquest held at Westminster Coroner’s Court in October 2014, the failings were acknowledged but staff at St George’s Hospital maintained that even if Mrs Wooding’s metabolic acidosis had been reported, it was so rare that its cause would not have been discovered and treatment administered in time to avoid her death.
Subsequent investigations undertaken by Mrs Wooding’s family have revealed that a simple Google search, using the details of her unusual test results, would have shown that her condition that was caused by the paracetamol she was taking. If the drug had been stopped, it is likely that Mrs Wooding would have survived.
Commenting on the case Dionne Wooding said, “My mother had had some serious health issues with the brain aneurysm and the subsequent brain abscess but we were so delighted she had got through them and was doing well. The tragic events that transpired in the hospital were due to complete lack of communication within the hospital staff caring for her. If just one of them had taken the time to even just Google her test results, they would have found that she had developed Pyroglumatic Acidosis which if diagnosed, is entirely treatable. Instead of that Mum ended up having a further operation which she shouldn’t have had in her condition, and the doctors continued administration of drugs including paracetamol, which ultimately led to her death.”
Dionne concluded, “The hospital may have settled the legal claim but at no point have they ever apologised to us or given us any indication that improvements in patient care have been made. I am therefore concerned this kind of unnecessary suffering and tragic death could happen again. I would hate any other family to have to go through what we have been through and would like to have assurances from St Georges that significant improvements in procedures have been made to patient care.”
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