St Ives family claim they watched elderly mum die in Hinchingbrooke Hospital

THE grieving family of an elderly woman claim they watched her die at Hinchingbrooke Hospital – and want other families to be alert over Christmas.

Pearl Mudie, 73, was admitted on December 5 last year after a fall at her home in Bowling Court, St Ives.

She was thought to have a urinary tract infection, for which she was given treatment.

But in the weeks leading up to her death on January 3, her four daughters, Teresa, Karen, Kerrie and Tricia, and son, Kenneth, said their mum was distressed about the treatment she received and that some medical records were poorly kept.

The family last month received �5,000 from Hinchingbrooke as a result of a potential clinical negligence claim.

The money will go to charity, but the family said other people needed to be aware of the “hospital’s shortcomings” and the “potential consequences to elderly relatives”.

“This was never about the money,” Kerrie, 47, told The Hunts Post. “Five million pounds wouldn’t bring our mum back. This is about saying to people: ‘If an elderly relative goes into hospital over Christmas, make sure you’re there – don’t leave them because you can’t be certain of the care they’re going to receive.’”

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Their concerns surround whether their mum was left dehydrated.

Mrs Mudie was found to have very low levels of sodium and was treated on December 15. Her health initially improved, but a post mortem examination report concluded that between December 15 and 29 her creatine levels had increased from 81 to 141 – a condition known to cause dehydration.

At the same time, as part of Mrs Mudie’s treatment, she had her fluid intake restricted – this allowed her 750ml per day. But the family said her fluid charts were incomplete, which meant there was no way of monitoring fluid intake.

This view was echoed in a Root Cause Analysis Investigation Report published by Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust on March 6. In the report, Karen Mitchell, lead emergency nurse, writes that on December 17 and 18 there was no fluid restriction noted on the charts and they were poorly completed – although “the patient is not receiving more than the allocated fluid allowance”. She also stated that on December 23 the fluid balance chart was incomplete and that no further fluid charts existed.

On April 13 the family met with consultant chest physician Dr Rob Buttery, Nurse Mitchell, complaints and claims manager Caroline Sheets and Walnut Ward’s deputy manager. They were told that Dr Buttery “accepted that a further blood test ought to have been carried out over the new year bank holiday weekend, which would have shown the increasing creatine level which might have alerted staff to her dehydration.”

But he added that Mrs Mudie had suffered a major drop in her blood pressure on January 3 which, he believed, had led to the bowel blockage that led to her death.

Nurse Mitchell added: “The family had questioned why no fluid balance charts were being maintained and had been assured they were and that they were behind the nurses’ station. This was evidently not the case and it appeared that the ward sister had taken Mrs Mudie off the fluid charts at her own discretion.”

Daughter, Tricia, 45, said: “We felt completely fobbed off by hospital staff. We kept asking to see mum’s medical charts but were told they were ‘behind the desk’ or that we weren’t allowed to see them. On one occasion, after mum had vomited and there was sick on her bed, we were told by one nurse that she was ‘busy and stressed’.

“We had no feedback about anything and they weren’t forthcoming with any information.”

Karen, added: “You could tell her organs were failing one by one and her hands were going blue but they just did not listen.”

The Root Cause report concluded that the fluid balance charts were incomplete, modified early warning sign charts were incomplete, bowels were not monitored on the observations chart, hand-over sheet information was not transferred to patient records, and there was no medical review over weekends or bank holidays.

Teresa, 52, added: “We just want some closure. We were mum’s voice throughout this whole thing but we felt we weren’t being listened to. It’s vital that families get the chance to be more involved in the care of their loved ones when they’re in hospital.”

While the care and death took place before Circle took over the management of the hospital, it was unable to comment on what procedures had been put in place to prevent such an incident re-occurring. Instead, a spokesman said: “The trust acknowledges that Mrs Mudie was admitted to Hinchingbrooke Hospital and sadly died on January 3, 2012. The trust do not believe it would be appropriate to discuss the specific details of her treatment whilst at the hospital.”