Family lodge complaint over care of Buckley woman

Published date: 21 February 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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THE family of a woman who died in hospital have lodged a complaint into her care.

Lilian Wilcock, 87, of Church Road, Buckley, died in Wrexham Maelor hospital on June 11, 2012.

She was initially admitted to hospital in May 2012 after her GP was concerned with the amount of leg pain Mrs Wilcock was suffering.

She had been prescribed paracetamol for the pain, but Dr Nicola Jones wanted her to go to hospital to check for deep vein thrombosis or fractures before prescribing stronger painkillers.

X-rays conducted at the hospital on May 10, 2012 showed no evidence of a clot or a fracture but did show Mrs Wilcock had severe arthritis.

At hospital, Mrs Wilcock was prescribed paracetamol on an as-needed basis, meaning she was given them when in pain.

And on May 15, Mrs Wilcock’s daughter Maria Davies received a phone call from the hospital to say her mother was being discharged.

But after discussions with hospital staff, it was decided Mrs Wilcock should remain in hospital.

The next day, Mrs Davies went to visit her mother but found her mother’s bed empty and stripped of bedding.

Mrs Davies said a woman in the next bed told her Mrs Wilcock had been transferred to Mold Community Hospital.

After checking with the rest of her family, Mrs Davies discovered no-one had been told her mother was being moved.

On May 18, Mrs Wilcock was started on fentanyl patches, an opiate-based painkiller, to manage pain in her legs.

But these made her unwell and on May 26 she was transferred back to Wrexham Maelor, thought to be suffering from opiate toxicity.

Dr Stuart Lee, consultant physician at Wrexham Maelor hospital said Mrs Wilcock was treated successfully for the opiate toxicity when she returned from Mold Community Hospital.

And coroner for North Wales East and Central John Gittins said at an inquest in Ruthin yesterday the toxicity did not contribute to her death.

He expressed sympathy with the family’s concerns, particularly for the ‘horror’ of not to be told she had been moved from the Maelor to Mold Community Hospital.

Mr Gittins said Mrs Wilcock had been treated for high blood pressure since 1979 and had been taking tablets daily since then.

A post-mortem found her heart weighed 630g. An average healthy heart usually weighs between 350 and 400g.

The post-mortem concluded the cause of death was cardiac failure due to hypertensive heart disease.

Returning what he described as ‘the only conclusion I am able to make’, Mr Gittins said Mrs Wilcock’s death was as a result of natural causes.

He added: “There have been a number of issues put before me by the family which rightly cause concern. I take on board all that I have heard and I absolutely agree with the degree of problems that you as a family encountered in the course of your mother’s death. You have my condolences on the loss of your mother and my sympathies in the problems you faced.”

A statement issued by Mrs Wilcock’s family after the hearing said: “We have lodged a complaint with the health board giving them a detailed catalogue of events and we expressed our concerns, but we fear our concerns will not result in any radical changes to improve the levels of care a patient can expect to receive in hospital.”

Following the inquest Angela Hopkins, director of nursing and midwifery at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said: “We would like to express our deepest sympathies to the family of Mrs Wilcock for their loss.

“We accept that our communication with the family fell short of the high standards we would expect.

“Good, clear communication is vital to good care.

“We are working continuously to improve the ways we share information and communicate with patients and their families.”

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