Hospital bosses have admitted a string of errors after a 64-year-old mother died.
Krista Wild, of Fairlands, East Preston, died at Worthing Hospital on December 17, after hospital staff failed to give her a regular course of antibiotics and refer her to senior staff members when her condition deteriorated.
Mrs Wild, who had recently been diagnosed with diabetes, was admitted to A&E on Sunday, December 14, with liver cirrhosis and an infection in her leg. But was moved on to an ‘overflow’ ward - without an allocated consultant instead of a gastric ward.
Dr Joe Wileman, consultant at Worthing Hospital, said: “She had to stay there because there was no where else to go. I felt she would have been able to go home within a week.”
Mrs Wild, who was being considered for a liver transplant, was prescribed antibiotics for the infection in her leg.
“She was given the first two doses,” added Dr Wileman. “Her antibiotics were crossed off both doses rather than one. She should have continued on that antibiotic and it should not have been crossed through.”
An inquest to her death was held at Centenary House, in Worthing on September 10.
Dr Wileman said the hospital ‘struggled’ to find the doctor who had crossed off the prescription.
During her stay at the hospital, nurses recorded a number of ‘abnormal’ observations. However a Modified Early Warning Score (MEWS), of five and later seven, should have triggered a review and observations by senior staff.
Even when her MEWS score reached 10, and she had low blood sugar and low blood pressure, Mrs Wild was not reviewed by a doctor.
The inquest heard Mrs Wild, who ‘very quickly deteriorated’, died in the morning after going into cardiac arrest. She had not been given antibiotics since the dosage on Monday.
Mrs Wild was seen by a junior doctor overnight, but doctors were only alerted to her condition by outreach nurses in the morning.
Dr Wileman said: “If she had stayed on antibiotics she might have continued to improve. However there is still a chance that even with the correct treatment she would not have recovered.”
Dr Rob Haigh, chief of medicine at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Worthing Hospital, said the failings in Mrs Wild’s care had been identified and steps had been taken to make sure it didn’t happen again.
He said: “The overall documentation of Krista’s care fell short. I do believe that the systemic and repeated failures were completely unacceptable.”
Dr Haigh said the trust has used Kirsta’s case as an example of when care goes wrong,
He said there had been problems with prescribing the antibiotics, said Mrs Wilds’ state should have triggered a ‘more urgent response’ and highlighted problems with communication between staff.
Dr Haigh added: “At that time the hospital was under extraordinarily high pressure in terms of the number of patients admitted.”
Rosemary Brownbridge, head of nursing at the trust, said it was ‘unacceptable’ that staff didn’t ‘escalate’ the observations to senior staff.
“They could see her previous observations. I’m not saying they were complacent but they weren’t as concerned as they should have been. The fact that she wasn’t seen on December 16, was again unacceptable and the nurses do struggle at times when there isn’t an allocated consultant.”
Dr George Findlay, Medical Director, at Western Sussex Hopsital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We extend our condolences and apologise again to Mrs Wild’s family at this difficult time.
“We thoroughly investigated the care Mrs Wild received last December and have taken major steps to improve the quality of care we provide, particularly at very busy times.
“This includes increasing the number of medical wards and beds available and investing in new electronic prescribing and patient monitoring equipment which would have addressed failings we identified.
“We are grateful to the family for recognising this was an exceptional case and that the Trust has been open and honest in raising concerns and taking robust action to try and ensure it could never happen again.”
Elizabeth Bussey-Jones, assistant coroner for West Sussex adjourned the inquest until September 18, when she is set to give her conclusion.
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