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Grieving family consider legal acton after hospital death
11:48am Friday 8th March 2013 in News
“AN unnecessary death.”
That is how the heartbroken family of Lesley Woodward have described the way she died at Southampton General Hospital.
They spoke out after the city’s coroner criticised the hospital for the fourth time in just three weeks.
Keith Wiseman said there was clearly “a serious misjudgement” in identifying a condition that led to the death of the 61- year-old in January last year.
The Daily Echo has reported how concerns were previously raised over the treatment three other patients received at the hospital before their deaths.
Now Mrs Woodward’s family are considering taking legal action against health chiefs.
The inquest heard how Mrs Woodward did not receive an urgent scan that could ultimately have diagnosed a dissecting thoracic-aortic aneurysm.
At the time the hospital was on black alert, a period of extreme pressure where bosses struggle to find enough staff and beds for the number of sick patients, the hearing in Southampton was told.
Mrs Woodward’s widower Gerry, 65, pictured above, said after the inquest: “The failure of the hospital in not submitting my wife for an urgent scan, requested by the consultant and being moved to a low dependency ward while the hospital was on black alert, I feel contributed to her untimely death.
“As medical professionals we put our lives in their hands and we should trust them solely, but we are completely devastated to think that such a simple requested urgent CT scan could have and should have saved my wife’s unnecessary death. All the warning signs were there.”
Mrs Woodward had been admitted as an emergency case on Friday, January 13 last year because of a sharp pain in the left side of her chest for the second time in a week.
Pictured above: Gerry Woodward with family Alanna Norman and PHil Bradley
Tests were carried out on Mrs Woodward and she was admitted to the acute medical unit in the early hours of January 14.
She was seen by Dr Derek Waller, consultant cardiovascular physician, during his ward round later that day.
He decided she should have an urgent computed tomography pulmonary angiogram (CTPA) scan amid concerns she was suffering froma pulmonary embolus.
The inquest heard how Dr Waller issued a scan request to the on-call radiologist immediately after seeing Mrs Woodward.
Mrs Woodward, of Grove Gardens, Sholing, was transferred to the lower dependency ward but staffing levels meant there was no longer a nurse available to escort her to the scan.
By the time an escort was found, Mrs Woodward had lost her place in the queue due to emergency cases taking priority, the inquest heard.
Mrs Woodward, who suffered from MS, was found unresponsive in her bed at 3am on Sunday, January 15, after suffering a fatal dissecting thoracic aortic aneurysm leading to “extensive internal bleeding” that tracked back towards the heart.
Mr Wiseman, below, branded the events which lead to her not receiving the scan as a “cruel twist of fate”.
Recording a narrative verdict, he said: “There was clearly serious misjudgement in the identification of the condition Mrs Woodward had, but whether that was in any way culpable is not a matter I am permitted to pronounce upon.
“The angiogram that would have identified her condition and enabled her to undergo the appropriate process was requested some 18 hours prior to her cardiac arrest and death, but a variety of circumstances meant that it had not actually taken place by the time of her collapse.”
In a statement, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Southampton General Hospital, said: “We express our deepest sympathies to Mrs Woodward’s family for their sad loss and apologise for the distress caused by delays and errors in supplying robust and accurate information about our investigation to them.
“While we hope the information provided at inquest helps to give her family a better understanding of the complexities her case presented, we understand what a difficult experience this has been for them and would like to offer our support with any outstanding issues.”