Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Dying girl 'called a drama queen by medics' - inquest

Apr 21 2009 by Andy Richards, Birmingham Mail

A TEENAGE girl who died in agonising pain a week after being admitted to hospital was accused of being a “drama queen” by medical staff, an inquest was told.

Sian Jones, aged 15, was admitted to a children’s ward at Birmingham’s Heartlands Hospital with stomach pains on August 6, 2007.

The teenager, from Stirchley. died of perienteritis – a serious infection that inflames the lining of the stomach and intestines – on August 13. Her sister Sarah Jones, aged 22, claimed: “The staff told my father on August 9 that there was nothing physically wrong with her and that it was all psychological, that she was a drama queen.”

Sian’s family claimed she was in “agonising pain”, unable to walk and was being fed and wheeled around in a chair by family members.

They alleged that they were told by medical staff that the pain from the undiagnosed perienteritis was brought on by problems at home.

Sian’s father Andrew had been fighting leukaemia for 18 months when his daughter was admitted to hospital, and has since died from the illness.

The inquest heard that when Sian was admitted doctors suspected that she was suffering from appendicitis.

They removed her appendix on August 7, but her pain grew steadily worse.

She was sent for scans and given pain relief, but doctors missed a number of tell-tale signs of her deteriorating condition, the inquest was told.

They attributed the discomfort to post-operation pain and failed to connect the signs of swelling in her stomach, problems with her urine, irregular blood sample results and problems with her temperature, heart rate and blood pressure.

She was finally sent to intensive care on August 11 when her condition worsened and she died in the early hours of August 13 of multi-organ failure, which was brought on by the infection.

Sarah Jones and her aunt, Susan, gave evidence yesterday at the inquest in Sutton Coldfield, which will hear from 26 witnesses.

She said: “I was very close to my sister and it became more and more difficult to see her in the latter half of the week. She was in agonising pain and would scream and cry constantly.

“My father had spent a long time in hospital and had given lots of blood samples. He kept asking about the results.

“She was only showered once whilst she was in the ward and her sheets were not changed once. It was up to me and my dad to clean her, to brush her teeth and to feed her because she was not able to do it herself.

“She even rang me at 3am begging me to go and see her. She would just want me to stroke her hair, she was in so much pain.

“I even had to ask for a wheelchair to take her to the toilet on two occasions, because by now she could not walk or even stand up.

“On the second occasion we came out to find that the chair had gone, so I had to wheel her back in weighing scales.

“My parents had split up some time before and our father was terminally ill, but Sian and I had no problems.”

Dr Ahmad had the most contact with Sian before her death. She had been a junior doctor at the hospital for two years and had started her surgical training at Heartlands just three days before Sian was admitted.

Under questioning from coroner Aidan Cotter she said she had not been made aware of any wheelchair use or calls to relatives in the middle of the night.

She said the surgical team, including two more senior surgeons who are now both working in Australia, attributed the continuing pain to post operation pain from the appendix procedure.

She added: “With the benefit of hindsight I can see that she was getting worse, but at the time it was not so obvious.

“In hindsight all the factors were viewed independently and not together.

“The team thought there was nothing amiss surgically and had been falsely reassured by a CT (x-ray) scan and a review from a paediatric doctor.

“The emotional aspect had been raised to me by my seniors and psychological issues were raised in a conversation with her father.”

(Proceeding)

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Source: Birmingham Mail

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The NHS killed my mother: MP Nigel Evans reveals how a routine operation ended in horror

The last, harrowing moments of my mother's life will live for ever in the collective memory of my family. An 86-year-old lady of infinite grace and dignity, she had the most agonising of deaths.

Lying bewildered and distressed in an NHS hospital bed, her body racked with pain, she kept desperately grabbing at the air with her hands as if she was drowning, while all the time being violently ill.

'It was torture, worse than a horror film. We felt so helpless,' says my sister, Louise, who witnessed the tragic scene. But it should never have been like this. My dear mother should have been able to depart this earth in serenity and peace, not forced to go through such a traumatic experience.

The reasons for her ordeal can, I believe, be found in a mixture of neglect, incompetence and indifference shown by the NHS.

For my mother died of the notorious superbug Clostridium difficile, known as C.diff, which she must have contracted while undergoing hospital treatment in Swansea. If she had been cared for properly, if the ward had been cleaner or greater urgency had been shown in handling her case, then this tragedy might never have happened.

The NHS is often a saviour, but it can also be a killer. What happened to my mother is all too common in the health service. There were 8,324 deaths from C.diff in 2007, with most of the victims elderly people.

That statistic is too high for a 21stcentury healthcare system in an advanced industrialised country. Moreover, an estimated 59,000 people in this country are disabled or die because of poor hygiene or care in our hospitals.

Even the essentials, such as providing patients with sufficient fluids or cleaning bathrooms properly, are neglected. That is why I am campaigning for drastic improvements in the basics of healthcare in the NHS, so deaths from C.diff and other superbugs can be eliminated.

I have demanded an investigation into the circumstances surrounding my mother's death at the Singleton Hospital in Swansea, but I also want the lessons of this episode to be learned much more widely, so that Britain has a health service that meets the needs of its users, not one that carries the risk of killing them.

My mother's case encapsulates the best and worst of the NHS. On one hand, she had the highest quality treatment from a leading surgeon after she was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus. On the other, when she returned to hospital for a routine operation - unconnected with the cancer - she received nothing like the same expert, attentive care.

That is almost certainly why she contracted C.diff and why medical staff were too slow in responding to symptoms. It seems as if there is a deep contradiction within the NHS, pulling the service in two directions.

We have phenomenal advances in drugs, medical technology and surgery, which can conquer-disease and prolong life in a way that would have been revolutionary only two decades ago. Yet, at the same time, we have abandoned the most basic standards of hygiene and care.

My mother deserved better from the NHS. Determined, kind and diligent, she was a pillar of strength, not just to my family but to the community in her area of Swansea, where she and my late father ran a newsagent's shop.

Full article can be read on Daily Mail

Wednesday, 8 April 2009


Teresa Cooper, 41, who blames drugging at Kendall House for the fact her three children born with defects

Jenny Booth

The practice of sedating troublesome teenagers in care homes was today being linked to birth defects after ten women came forward to complain that their children had been born damaged.

As teenagers at the Church of England-run Kendall House in Gravesend, Kent, the ten were routinely restrained with huge doses of tranquillisers and other drugs.

Sedating children was allegedly commonplace in care homes during the 1970s and 1980s, although the levels of drugging at Kendall House,a home for girls with problems, appear to have been unusual.

Now fears are surfacing that the drugging may have impaired the girls' chances of having healthy babies. The alarm was raised by Teresa Cooper, who left the home in 1984 at 16, and has since written Trust No One - a book about her experiences.

Ms Cooper's three children all have birth defects. Her eldest son was born with respiratory difficulties, her second son is blind and has learning difficulties, and her daughter was born with a cleft palate and a short lower jaw.

Files from Kendall House show that she was given medication at least 1,248 times over a 32-month period, including anti-psychotic drugs intended for schizophrenics, drugs to counter side-effects, sedatives and anti-depressants, the BBC reported today. The dosages were high - she was given up to 10 times the current recommended dose of Valium.

Since her book was published, Ms Cooper says, nine further former residents of Kendall House, who all underwent similar drugging, have been in touch with her to report having children with brain tumours, learning difficulties and cleft palate.

Ofsted, the schools and childcare inspectorate, says that hundreds of children may have been drugged in the care system throughout the 70s and 80s, subjecting them to possible health risks.

Mike Lindsay, national co-ordinator for Children’s Rights Alliance for England, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Using drugs to control the behaviour of children was perfectly acceptable as far as their own professional understanding at that time went."

In 1980, Kendall House became the focus of national controversy when the levels of drugs being prescribed by psychiatrist Dr Mahenthiran Perinpanayagam were revealed in a TV documentary.

Healthy girls in his care were given pills designed for schizophrenics, psychotics and Parkinson's sufferers, and the teenagers were often held down and forced to take them, the documentary said.

By 1984 a report into the home by the Department of Health and Social Security was scathing about the drugs given to the girls. Inspector Dr Dorothy Black said she was extremely concerned about "storage, monitoring and administration of psychotropic drugs", adding: "The home needs close and urgent attention."

Full article here: Times Online