Hospital apologises following Penzance woman's death
HEALTH bosses have admitted serious failings that might have led to the preventable death of a Penzance woman.
Claire Harry, 36, was admitted to Royal Cornwall Hospital Truro in September 2010 with a chest infection and died soon after following complications with her diabetes.
“When we had the phone call we didn’t know what had gone on,” said Claire’s dad, Clive. “We were numb – we couldn’t do anything. We couldn’t understand it.”
Miss Harry was on Carnkie Ward when her blood sugar levels dropped dangerously low overnight.
Fantastic offer at Swanson Ford, Newton Abbot. 3 Years FREE Servicing and 5 Years Warranty available on your BRAND NEW FORD FIESTA with the AWARD WINNING ECOBOOST ENGINE!!!
Terms: Limited stock available. Only whilst stock lasts
Contact: 01626 240583
Valid until: Tuesday, December 24 2013
At the inquest into her death on Monday, medical professionals said Claire should have been on two-hourly blood sugar level checks.
However, Claire was only being monitored every six hours on the night she slipped into a coma.
Miss Harry was visited at 6.20am by a healthcare assistant. But the assistant found her “peacefully asleep”, could not rouse her to take a reading and did not alert others.
This was described as a “major error of judgement” by Dr Hyder Hussaini, a consultant who had been caring for Miss Harry since 2000.
He suggested a lack of training, could have played a part.
Mr Harry, whose family were represented by Mike Bird, of Foot Anstey solicitors of Truro, said he felt complacency and too many staff pressures may have been decisive.
He added: “Claire had so much trust for the ward and the staff.
“She saw them as more of a family. If she could see what has gone wrong now she would be very upset.”
The inquest heard that if Claire’s blood sugar levels had been tested by the assistant her death might have been prevented.
Lezli Boswell, chief executive of Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT), wrote to the family earlier this year to express her sincere condolences; admitting an “unacceptable failure”.
“It is with great regret that I am able to tell you that the result of this failure was a delay in commencing appropriate treatment,” she wrote. “Had such treatment been implemented as it should, Claire’s condition was likely to have been treatable and she would not have died when she did.”
Because of the blunder Miss Harry was found in a critical condition at 7.20am. She had already suffered irreversible brain damage. She developed bronchopneumonia and died on October 13. The inquest also heard that Claire had not been seen by a diabetic specialist during her stay.
RCHT has admitted legal liability. A trust spokesman outlined a number of changes that have been made following the tragedy including an extra nurse on Carnkie Ward and additional training.
Mr Harry said this was one positive to come from Claire’s death although he and his wife Monica were sad it took Claire’s death for these to be brought in.
“It’s taken three years to get to this stage – we can finally move on,” he said.
Mr Harry also mentioned his son Jason, who he said was “very angry and upset” but had been “extremely supportive of us” through the tough time.
Coroner Dr Emma Carlyon gave a narrative verdict stating: “Claire Louise Harry died from bronchopneumonia due to brain damage caused by the hypoglycaemic event on September 30 due to diabetes, which was not recognised or treated in time to avoid death.”