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Neglect contributed to death of great-grandad

PUBLISHED: 16:40 02 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:59 11 August 2010

A HOSPITAL was said to have shown gross failings in care and neglect when an elderly patient from a Dagenham nursing home died from infected bedsores after twice being left for 19 hours on an A&E trolley. Walter Gibson, 86, of Alexander Court, Rainha

A HOSPITAL was said to have shown "gross failings in care" and "neglect" when an elderly patient from a Dagenham nursing home died from infected bedsores after twice being left for 19 hours on an A&E trolley.

Walter Gibson, 86, of Alexander Court, Rainham Road South, who suffered from Parkinson's disease, was admitted to Queen's Hospital, Rom Way, Romford, with a urinary tract infection in December 2007, Walthamstow Coroner's Court heard.

The great-grandfather waited 19 hours on a trolley, designed to be used for a maximum of 12, in the emergency department, before he was moved to a bed. By the time he returned home, he had two pressure sores on his right buttock and left heel, as well as hardened, pre-ulcerated skin on his left buttock.

Mr Gibson became ill on New Year's Day 2008 with pneumonia and was admitted to an "extremely busy" Queen's A&E, where he had a 19-hour wait for a bed.

He was seen seven hours later by locum consultant physician Dr OA Elegbe, who found the sore on his buttock had spread, worsened to a serious grade four ulcer - deep enough to expose tendon and bone - and was infected.

Mr Gibson's wounds were dressed, but he was not moved to a ward and on to a pressure-relieving mattress for 12 hours. His family told the hearing he was not regularly turned to alleviate the painful and inflamed sores during that wait.

Mr Gibson died on January 12, 2008, 11 days after admission, from septicemia as a result of the open bedsore wounds. Bronchial pneumonia was a contributing factor.

Dr Elegbe and tissue viability nurse Beverley Wilson admitted there were gross failings in Mr Gibson's care.

Dr Wilcox said: "He was at very, very high risk of pressure sores, and he should have been provided with appropriate protection against worsening of the pressure sores.

"It is quite clear from the evidence I've heard the length of time Mr Gibson waited at A&E both the first and second time - the second time added insult to injury to a man already completely dependent - made a significant contribution to his death."

Recording her verdict last week, Dr Wilcox said Mr Gibson died of natural causes, contributed to by neglect.

She made provisional recommendations to Queen's to prevent repeat deaths, including extra bedsore training for nurses; increased risk assessment of patients likely to develop pressure sores and more air mattresses.

Mr Gibson's daughter Jacqueline With, from South Ockendon, said afterwards: "I hope the recommendations go through, so no one has to suffer the way my dad did."

A spokesman for Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "Over the past year, the trust in partnership with the PCTs has reviewed and streamlined the processes for patients attending A&E to ensure that they can be admitted and cared for in the right setting to meet individual needs.

"A list of recommended actions from the coroner will be submitted to the trust for implementation and response.

"The trust takes very seriously what lessons can be learned in order to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.


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