A Burnley grandmother who was devoted to her family and her church may have died needlessly due to hospital negligence and failings in her care.
Hospital bosses have admitted Mrs Sheila Rose Harvey (71) could have survived had she been assessed properly and referred for appropriate treatment earlier.
Her grieving family said they had been fighting for answers for two-and-a-half years and said they had been through a living nightmare.
Mrs Harvey, of Reed Street, Burnley Wood, died on February 2nd 2012, weeks after a fall in which she broke two of her ribs and injured her back.
After seeking medical advice, her GP and Lancashire County Council Social Services referred her to a care home for six weeks’ rehabilitation and physiotherapy.
But just two days after her admission Mrs Harvey was taken to the Royal Blackburn Hospital where she was diagnosed with double pneumonia and kidney damage. After spending two weeks in hospital, she was discharged back to the care home.
Mrs Harvey’s daughter Heather (48) said her mum, who was partially sighted, was still in a lot of pain and had a lack of appetite.
She said Mrs Harvey had visits from her GP and a nurse while in the care home and although they repeatedly diagnosed dehydration they failed to treat it. After another doctor’s visit, where Mrs Harvey was once again diagnosed with dehydration, it was suggested that blood tests were carried out.
The following night her family received a phone call at 2am from the GP who said the blood results showed Mrs Harvey was suffering from kidney failure and that an ambulance had been called.
Her family rushed to be by her side and, after a four-hour wait for the ambulance, Mrs Harvey was transferred to intensive care at the Royal Blackburn where she was diagnosed with severe dehydration and metformin toxicity and placed on a dialysis machine.
Tragically it was too late for the dialysis machine to work and Mrs Harvey died of kidney failure. She had been prescribed the drug metformin to treat type 2 diabetes but, Heather said because she had not been eating or drinking, the medication had also caused a build up of toxins in her body.
After a relentless fight and numerous complaints about her care by Heather, who lives in Norfolk, and Mrs Harvey’s other two daughters, Ruth (51) and Denise (42), who both live in Burnley, the family received a letter from the NHS Litigation Authority to say East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Royal Blackburn Hospital, was at fault.
The letter said: “It is submitted that had Ms Harvey been assessed as requested on the 23rd January 2012 and input/output charts kept and had she been referred for earlier specialist intervention, then on the balance of probabilities, Ms Harvey would have responded to treatment and therefore may have survived.”
Heather said: “It has been horrendous. Procedures were not put in place to support my mum. We haven’t had an apology or an explanation. This won’t bring my mum back but we don’t want this to happen to anybody else. “People shouldn’t be afraid to question the care their relatives are getting.
“The last two-and-a-half years have been draining. Until the fall my mum lived a normal life. She helped out in the coffee shop at Central Methodist Church, she played bingo and she loved her grandchildren. She has four grandsons and her first granddaughter was born last year and she never got to see her.”
Christine Pearson, chief nurse at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, added: “East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust would like to express our sincere condolences to the family of Mrs Harvey following her passing and the Trust has accepted liability in this case.
“We sincerely apologise to the family, the Trust reviews all incidents and legal claims made to ensure that lessons are learned and necessary improvements are made.”