Hospital bosses apologise after death of dad-of-four

Photo Neil Cross. 'Trish Pateman, widow of Brian, who died at Blackburn hospital after allegedly terrible care
Photo Neil Cross. 'Trish Pateman, widow of Brian, who died at Blackburn hospital after allegedly terrible care
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The family of a Clitheroe man have received an apology from Royal Blackburn Hospital bosses who admitted a series of errors in care and a failure to inform the family that the father-of-four was unlikely to survive.

Brian Pateman (74), of West View, suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and was admitted to C4, a short stay ward, with a suspected chest infection on May 1st this year. He died three days later.

His family’s complaint to East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust centred around four key issues which they outlined in a letter sent in September.

They maintain there was a “catalogue of errors” in Mr Pateman’s care, including:

The nursing documentation in his case notes did not adequately reflect events on Saturday, May 3rd.

The family’s concern that Mr Pateman had suffered a series of seizures in their presence was dismissed as side-effects of nebuliser medication by a day shift nurse and no record was made of the seizures until the night staff came on duty.

The family were not informed of how poorly Mr Pateman was – staff had recorded a National Early Warning Score of four on his admission (the system is a guide used by medical staff to quickly determine the degree of illness of a patient, four being classed as a low score).

Concerns relating to the administration of medicines being wrongly recorded, with some entries recorded when it was impossible for Mr Pateman to swallow oral medication – the family also allege there is a record of him being administered medication at a time after he had died.

Brian’s daughter Jeanette Pateman-Shepherd said: “As far as we were concerned, he was in hospital to receive treatment for a chest infection and we were preparing to take him home. We ran to tell the nurses after he suffered the first seizure and were told it was side effects from the nebuliser. It happened again around five times and each time, I went to get help and was just told the same thing. It was awful as his eyes were rolling back and he was shaking and screaming and we just felt helpless.

“Afterwards, we realised none of the seizures we had seen had been documented as we received a call from the nurse on duty that night, telling us to come to the hospital quickly as he was having a seizure. I told her we’d witnessed them happening all day, but there was nothing in my dad’s notes to confirm this.

“We were so angry because if we’d been listened to he could have been given an injection after the first seizure and would not have suffered so terribly.”

The hospital were also criticised by the family for reaching a Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation agreement with Mr Pateman, without the presence of any family member and while he was in a fragile and confused state.

Mrs Pateman-Shepherd continued: “We were told later there was only one junior doctor on duty at the time of Dad’s death and his care would’ve been different if it wasn’t a weekend. We have also been told by the hospital the nurse who was responsible for Dad’s care was new to the hospital, so she didn’t understand procedure. They then dismissed the fact no-one told us Dad was dying as a lack of communication.”

The family’s complaints have been investigated and they have received a formal written response, signed by both East Lancashire NHS Trust’s Interim Chief Executive and the Chief Medical Officer.

In a statement this week, Julie Molyneaux, Deputy Chief Nurse at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We again offer our sincere condolences to Mrs Pateman-Shepherd for the loss of her father.

“Mrs Pateman-Shepherd made a formal complaint to the Trust, which was fully investigated and our findings were shared with her.

“We apologised for the issues that arose while her father was a patient and explained how improvements would be made as a result of her complaint. It is regrettable Mrs Pateman-Shepherd has now felt it necessary to go to the media.

“We would ask Mrs Pateman-Shepherd to get in touch with us if she has any further issues she would like us to look into and we would be happy to arrange another meeting.”