Hospital patient dies after misdiagnosis
A report has revealed that a hospital patient who died from meningitis was initially diagnosed as suffering from alcohol withdrawal after being admitted to Arrowe Park Hospital, run by the Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The same Trust was also investigated after staff missed signs that the condition of an elderly patient was worsening. The Ombudsman who published the report is responsible for investigating complaints regarding NHS services in Essex and across England.
In the first case, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman found that, although the patient’s death was unlikely to have been preventable, the hospital failed to provide an appropriate level of care and that there were avoidable delays in correctly diagnosing his condition. The man, who had been due to begin a programme for alcoholism, was brought to the hospital by ambulance and was thought to be suffering from alcohol withdrawal. His condition deteriorated and he was subsequently diagnosed and treated for bacterial meningitis but died two days later.
The watchdog also found that the Trust caused unnecessary suffering for an elderly patient in the second investigation. The woman’s declining medical condition and developing pressure sore went unnoticed by the hospital staff responsible for her care, causing her distress that could have been prevented. The Trust admitted to failures in both the cases and apologised to the victims and their families saying that complaints were occasions for learning and improvement.
When a patient is misdiagnosed, or when the standard of treatment by medical staff falls below a reasonable level of care, this may result in an injury or deterioration of an existing condition. Health care providers are required to release the medical records of a patient when they request it. A solicitor may review these records in order to assist their client when making a claim for medical negligence.