Sandy widow slams hospital care she says killed her husband

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A Sandy widow has hit out at the treatment her husband received at Bedford Hospital before his death.

Mary Wadsworth says her husband Terry would have been better off staying at home after a coroner said staff at the hospital had paid lip service to his conditon.

Terry, aged 55, went to hospital on September 12, 2014 with persistent pains in his stomach. But despite the fact that his symptoms – pain, nausea and vomiting, weight loss and loss of appetite – were consistent with Chronic Mesenteric Ischemia (CMI), the cause was not identified.

CMI is a rare condition where poor blood circulation affects the supply of blood to the stomach, liver, colon and intestine.

On September 23, 2014, he attended A&E after a week of diarrhoea and vomiting. He was admitted on September 29 and a CT scan was performed the following day. The scan revealed gastric thickening, a typical sign of CMI, but this was not reported to the doctor in charge. Instead, Terry was discharged on October 4.

He returned to hospital on October 20 where another CT scan was performed the following day. Again, CMI was clearly visible but was not reported. A week later, Terry was discharged.

Terry’s health continued to deteriorate and an MRI scan was carried out on October 27. Again, the CMI was clearly visible but was still not reported.

On November 20, 2014, Terry died in hospital.

A Serious Incident Investigation Report found that there had been delay in diagnosing the CMI and failures to act on blood results.

Mary, 54, attended the inquest at Ampthill into Terry’s death last month. Afterwards she said: “The hospital missed obvious signs of a rare but dangerous illness time and time again, and they finally admitted that.

“Both my son and I knew from the very beginning that something wasn’t right in how my husband had been treated. The hospital discharged a sick man – claiming to have carried out all the necessary tests. Clearly, they had not.

“Terry was a 12 stone fit and active man when he fell ill. By the time he died, he was nothing but skin and bones. I begged him to go into hospital. You will be in safe hands, I said. It turns out he may as well have stayed at home and spent his final days amongst his loved ones.”

Mr Pears, Assistant Coroner, heard testimony regarding Terry’s chances of survival had the CMI had been identified earlier.

He wrote: “I accept that diagnosis is not an exact science and clinicians will approach diagnosis on the basis of the most likely diagnosis. I accept that the CMI may have presented with atypical symptoms and that each investigation for malignancy seemed to produce a further area of concern. Nevertheless, there are clearly three missed opportunities. Whilst we do not know what would have happened if CMI had been identified, it is probable that Mr Wadsworth would not have died on 20 November, 2014.”

Regarding whether the medical staff had learnt lessons from the tragic episode, Mr Pears said he felt unconvinced. “At best they were paying lip service,” he wrote.

David Thomas, a Partner at Simpson Millar LLP, has been representing the family during the inquest. He said: “This is a truly sad case.

“These errors literally had fatal consequences for Terry Wadsworth.

“The coroner’s narrative verdict recorded that this was not a natural death and that Terry would probably have survived had a timely diagnosis been made. Tragically, the hospital’s failings in care has denied Terry several more years of life and denied his family of a caring and devoted husband, father and grandfather.”

Terry was born in Luton where he lived until 2012.

A Bedford Hospital spokesman said: “In order to maintain patient confidentiality at all times, Bedford Hospital NHS Trust does not comment on individual patient cases. In addition, certain patient cases could be undergoing investigation in which it would be inappropriate for the hospital to make any comment about such cases during this time.

“The Trust follows set procedures following any serious incident and will always take away learning where necessary from the outcome of any investigations or inquests.”