Con­cern over hos­pi­tal deaths

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Your Telegraph - By ASHA ME­HTA

CON­CERN has been voiced af­ter new fig­ures re­vealed that seven pa­tients have died in un­ex­pected in­ci­dents at Peter­bor­ough and Stam­ford hos­pi­tals in the last 16 months.

The deaths were among nine se­ri­ous un­to­ward in­ci­dents (SUIs) recorded by Peter­bor­ough and Stam­ford Hos­pi­tals NHS Foun­da­tion Trust from Jan­uary 2009 to May this year.

The fig­ures mean the trust has the third high­est num­ber of pa­tient deaths as a re­sult of SUIs in the East of Eng­land. The only trusts that recorded more were Mil­ton Keynes with 29 and Lu­ton and Dun­sta­ble with 11.

Health of­fi­cials de­fine SUIs as some­thing out of the or­di­nary with the po­ten­tial to cause se­ri­ous harm or at­tract pub­lic in­ter­est. The fig­ures have prompted a call from Peter­bor­ough MP Ste­wart Jack­son for ac­tion.

In one in­ci­dent re­ported in Jan­uary this year, a pa­tient died of a heart at­tack within 24 hours of be­ing ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal. That per­son, who has not been named, had been trans­ferred to the High Depen­dency Unit and then to in­ten­sive care. De­tails of the hos­pi­tal in­volved have also not been re­vealed.

But the pa­tient’s death led to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion at the hos­pi­tal with the trust still wait­ing for de­tails of a sep­a­rate in­ves­ti­ga­tion by ex­ter­nal agen­cies. The death was also re­ported to NHS Peter­bor­ough pri­mary care trust.

De­tails of a sep­a­rate SUI re­veal how a pa­tient col­lapsed and died a few days af­ter be­ing dis­charged from hos­pi­tal in May last year, af­ter un­der­go­ing what health of­fi­cials de­scribe as a pro­ce­dure which was un­event­ful.

In that case, the coro­ner was in­formed and the cause of death was found to be a blood clot. Again, de­tails of the pa­tient and the hos­pi­tal in­volved have not been dis­closed.

Af­ter the in­ci­dent, pro­ce­dures were put in place to en­sure de­tails of all staff present dur­ing a pa­tient re­view were doc­u­mented and that staff mak­ing de­ci­sions on care or dis­charge were iden­ti­fied and told to sign the records.

But not all SUIs are down to med­i­cal er­rors, as some may be deaths which were un­ex­pected or sim­ply could not be ex­plained. Some may not even in­volve pa­tients di­rectly. For in­stance, the fig­ures in­clude the theft of a lap­top con­tain­ing con­fi­den­tial pa­tient data from Peter­bor­ough District Hos­pi­tal in April this year.

Mr Jack­son said: “It’s im­pos­si­ble to leg­is­late for un­to­ward in­ci­dents but I’m pleased the hos­pi­tal is com­mit­ted to re­duc­ing them. I would like to see us move out of the re­gion’s top three.”

The alarm­ing statis­tics for the 16 months from Jan­uary last year were re­vealed in a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion request. But sep­a­rate fig­ures show that from March 2008 to April 2009, there were a to­tal of eight SUIs, com­pared to seven for 2009/10.

Hos­pi­tal trust med­i­cal di­rec­tor John Randall said SUIs were rare but were treated ex­tremely se­ri­ously.

He said: “The trust com­plies with an ex­tremely strict re­port­ing pro­to­col in the event of an SUI which will in­volve, as well as its own in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions, re­port­ing to NHS Peter­bor­ough with which the trust has a con­tract to pro­vide health­care and to Monitor, the in­de­pen­dent reg­u­la­tor of NHS Foun­da­tion Trusts.

“NHS Peter­bor­ough in­forms the East of Eng­land Strate­gic Health Author­ity, which in turn in­forms the Depart­ment of Health.

“Depend­ing on the na­ture of the SUI this can some­times in­volve in­form­ing the coro­ner, who will then de­cide whether an in­quest is nec­es­sary.

“The trust treats any se­ri­ous un­to­ward in­ci­dent ex­tremely se­ri­ously in­deed. We work very hard to en­sure that poli­cies and pro­ce­dures are be­ing ad­hered to by all staff, at all times.

“If an in­ci­dent is se­ri­ous enough to be classed as an SUI, a group will im­me­di­ately meet to in­ves­ti­gate what hap­pened, why and what can be done to en­sure such in­ci­dents do not hap­pen again.”

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