Blackburn widower to sue hospital for ‘negligence’ after wife’s death

Alan McDonald holds a picture of his wife, Maureen

Alan McDonald holds a picture of his wife, Maureen

First published in News
Last updated
This Is Lancashire: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A WIDOWER is to sue Royal Blackburn Hospital following the death of his wife.

Maureen McDonald waited hours to see a hospital doctor after she fell ill during chemotherapy treatment.

Her husband Alan said: “I’m suing the hospital for medical negligence. Cancer patients can’t go through this.”

He said that she had needed antibioltics urgently.

“They have a one hour window to survive. It’s the pits.”

Mrs McDonald’s death prompted a serious untoward incident review at Royal Blackburn Hospital after her husband Alan raised concerns about her care.

The report produced by the hospital trust found: *Two nurses had failed to recognise how ill she was.

* The Medical Assessment Unit, which had been expecting her, was not told she had been taken to the A&E department instead.

* She only saw a doctor after a delay of almost three hours when Mr McDonald called the chemotherapy unit himself.

* She was given penicillin when she was allergic to the drug.

The trust which runs the hospital said a number of actions had been implemented following the review to recognise similar patients.

Mr McDonald said he was speaking out after two other cancer patients had also suffered from miscommunication problems when taken for treatment at the hospital.

Mrs McDonald, 59, of Honeyhole, Blackburn, had been diagnosed with brain and lung cancer last December.

Just weeks later, after starting chemotherapy, she complained of sickness and chest pain and an ambulance was booked to take her to the Medical Assessment Unit at the hospital.

The report said when paramedics arrived they decided her symptoms were so serious she should be taken to A&E.

However staff in the emergency department failed to make cancer specialists at the hospital aware that Mrs McDonald had been admitted, and because the seriousness of her condition had not been recognised, there was a delay in prescribing her antibiotics, the report added.

Mr McDonald said: “They kept her in A&E for hours, in that time a senior staff nurse missed vital signs.

“She never received antibiotics or pain relief.

“I had to contact the cancer unit myself. The cancer nurse wanted to know why she was in A&E, not the medical assessment unit.

“The cancer specialist came rushing down and got her straight into resus.”

The report said that when the oncologist came down to A&E, the consultant in the emergency department did not have Mrs McDonald’s notes available, but the two consultants agreed that antibiotics should be prescribed.

Mrs McDonald was given Tazocin, but she had a penicillin allergy, and doctors did not check whether the drug would be suitable before administering it, the report said.

Mr McDonald said: “She had an allergy wristband on, but they never asked her what she was allergic to.”

Mrs McDonald was later transferred to the Medical Assessment Unit, but she passed away in the early hours of the following morning.

The report into her death has made several recommendations, including that feedback should be given to the triage nurse regarding the recognition of seriously unwell patients, and nurses should be made aware of the importance of early treatment.

It said: “It is unlikely that even if Mrs M had received antibiotics within one hour of her attendance at the emergency department that she would have survived however it is very difficult to know for sure.”

Mr McDonald, who is now taking legal action against the Trust, said he was very concerned that two other patients had died under similar circumstances since his wife’s death.

Blackburn Coroner’s Court has previously heard how retired milkman Roy Wildman, who lived in Lime Street, Nelson, died in May after it took two days for staff in A&E to inform cancer doctors of his arrival when it should have been done immediately.

Another inquest heard that Shirley Banks, 67, who lived in Constable Avenue, Burnley died within a few days of Mrs McDonald.

She had been diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus and was undergoing chemotherapy when she was taken to hospital as an emergency admission. She died on New Year’s Eve.

Blackburn coroner Michael Singleton said he would be making a report to East Lancashire NHS Hospitals Trust relating to the triage of patients suffering from cancer, as he believed there remained a risk of further fatalities following an inquest into Mrs Banks’s death.

Mr McDonald said: “I was told this would never, ever happen again, because procedures are now in place.”

Chris Pearson, Chief Nurse at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We are very sorry about Mr McDonald’s loss and our sympathies remain with him.

“We have met with Mr McDonald regarding the care his wife received at the Trust and the issues that he has raised with us are not the same as those he has indicated.

“A number of actions have and are being implemented to ensure the issues Mr McDonald raised with us do not happen again - this includes education and change of procedures within the Emergency Department so patients like Mrs McDonald are recognised and highlighted early for IV antibiotic treatment.”

Comments (16)

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7:45am Wed 30 Jul 14

alf-abett says...

Same old rhetoric from the hospital spokes person "Procedures have been put in place" premature deaths through negligence keep happening so have they!
Same old rhetoric from the hospital spokes person "Procedures have been put in place" premature deaths through negligence keep happening so have they! alf-abett
  • Score: 43

8:17am Wed 30 Jul 14

bill66 says...

Yeah my son was born there and did not have afeed for over 12 hours they found out at 9 pm that he had a cleft palate there were complications at birth which lead to my son being brain damaged epilepsiy and he will never walk got in toch with a layer they got the medical reports for my sons care on the ward and a sister said he had a feed in the afternoon rubbish he did not move until 7.30 pm and a consultent said thats his problem cleft palate so how could he have had a feed in the afternoon all what they have done is lied and this is a fact
Yeah my son was born there and did not have afeed for over 12 hours they found out at 9 pm that he had a cleft palate there were complications at birth which lead to my son being brain damaged epilepsiy and he will never walk got in toch with a layer they got the medical reports for my sons care on the ward and a sister said he had a feed in the afternoon rubbish he did not move until 7.30 pm and a consultent said thats his problem cleft palate so how could he have had a feed in the afternoon all what they have done is lied and this is a fact bill66
  • Score: 20

10:43am Wed 30 Jul 14

RoboftheRovers2 says...

I used to live in the very next house to Alan and Maureen and they go back years with my parents they always looked after me and cared for me it is disgusting and upsetting to read this article and learn how Maureen was neglected by a multi billion pound health service that is supposed to have the best doctors and professional consultants in the world RIP Auntie Maureen!
I used to live in the very next house to Alan and Maureen and they go back years with my parents they always looked after me and cared for me it is disgusting and upsetting to read this article and learn how Maureen was neglected by a multi billion pound health service that is supposed to have the best doctors and professional consultants in the world RIP Auntie Maureen! RoboftheRovers2
  • Score: 30

12:08pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Smudge1971 says...

After spending time in this hospital last week, this reinforces my decision to sign out and allow my family to care for me. 50% of the staff are committed to caring as a profession, 50% are inept, barely qualified and merely clock-watching for their shift end.
After spending time in this hospital last week, this reinforces my decision to sign out and allow my family to care for me. 50% of the staff are committed to caring as a profession, 50% are inept, barely qualified and merely clock-watching for their shift end. Smudge1971
  • Score: 24

12:21pm Wed 30 Jul 14

ConcernedOssy says...

Smudge1971 wrote:
After spending time in this hospital last week, this reinforces my decision to sign out and allow my family to care for me. 50% of the staff are committed to caring as a profession, 50% are inept, barely qualified and merely clock-watching for their shift end.
SPOT ON, also many staff speak only pigeon English, all in all too many chiefs, extremely badly managed and underfunded. Fast becoming The place to avoid at all costs. Urgent remedial attention is required without further delays, fob offs, or excuses as there are none that have not been over used before, let's see some POSITIVE ACTION FOR A CHANGE.
[quote][p][bold]Smudge1971[/bold] wrote: After spending time in this hospital last week, this reinforces my decision to sign out and allow my family to care for me. 50% of the staff are committed to caring as a profession, 50% are inept, barely qualified and merely clock-watching for their shift end.[/p][/quote]SPOT ON, also many staff speak only pigeon English, all in all too many chiefs, extremely badly managed and underfunded. Fast becoming The place to avoid at all costs. Urgent remedial attention is required without further delays, fob offs, or excuses as there are none that have not been over used before, let's see some POSITIVE ACTION FOR A CHANGE. ConcernedOssy
  • Score: 28

1:17pm Wed 30 Jul 14

kapalski says...

Procedures put in place, education of staff to make sure this does not happen again blah blah blah, call me stupid but shouldn't these procedures already be in place????

Education of staff, what a ridiculous statement to make, they should already be educated!!

And to say all this so it does not happen again, well for heavens sake it should not of happened in the first place should it!!

What would the bosses of this place say if it was their loved ones this happens to? ooops silly me, they wouldn't be would they as they would be in a nice private hopital eh!

As this hospital like to state as one of their excuses, Lancashire is a deprived county, so at the end of the day its all our fault for using their services and making them so busy they cannot cope!
Procedures put in place, education of staff to make sure this does not happen again blah blah blah, call me stupid but shouldn't these procedures already be in place???? Education of staff, what a ridiculous statement to make, they should already be educated!! And to say all this so it does not happen again, well for heavens sake it should not of happened in the first place should it!! What would the bosses of this place say if it was their loved ones this happens to? ooops silly me, they wouldn't be would they as they would be in a nice private hopital eh! As this hospital like to state as one of their excuses, Lancashire is a deprived county, so at the end of the day its all our fault for using their services and making them so busy they cannot cope! kapalski
  • Score: 14

1:33pm Wed 30 Jul 14

woolywords says...

Have you ever heard of the expression, mass hysteria?
Well, in this case, it's mass deja vu, again!
...
At least when they say, "A number of actions have and are being implemented to ensure the issues.. raised with us do not happen again - this includes education and change of procedures" is slightly different to the usual trite words..
Or has the usual spokesperson gone on sick leave, with job related stress?
Makes you wonder, dunnit..
Have you ever heard of the expression, mass hysteria? Well, in this case, it's mass deja vu, again! ... At least when they say, "A number of actions have and are being implemented to ensure the issues.. raised with us do not happen again - this includes education and change of procedures" is slightly different to the usual trite words.. Or has the usual spokesperson gone on sick leave, with job related stress? Makes you wonder, dunnit.. woolywords
  • Score: 8

1:47pm Wed 30 Jul 14

useyourhead says...

Sorry to hear you lost Mo Alan, good luck with the fight. (can't believe your still sporting our cannibals patch, brought back some memories)
Sorry to hear you lost Mo Alan, good luck with the fight. (can't believe your still sporting our cannibals patch, brought back some memories) useyourhead
  • Score: 8

3:29pm Wed 30 Jul 14

mavrick says...

How can this trust be coming out of special measures? I had the misfortune of being transferred there over the weekend from one of the private hospitals who couldn't cope with an emergency, so they are not all they are cracked up to be. When I realised where I was going I refused to go, The doctors said they had a legal obligation to send me to the RBH as I had developed a heart problem. Off I went in an ambulance and stayed in the RBH I didn't actually have any treatment so on Monday Lunchtime, I was told there was nothing they could do so i could go home. A complete waste of every bodies time. I know some people have good experiences at the RBH but I am not one of them. It is time some serious action was taken to make this hospital fit for purpose.
How can this trust be coming out of special measures? I had the misfortune of being transferred there over the weekend from one of the private hospitals who couldn't cope with an emergency, so they are not all they are cracked up to be. When I realised where I was going I refused to go, The doctors said they had a legal obligation to send me to the RBH as I had developed a heart problem. Off I went in an ambulance and stayed in the RBH I didn't actually have any treatment so on Monday Lunchtime, I was told there was nothing they could do so i could go home. A complete waste of every bodies time. I know some people have good experiences at the RBH but I am not one of them. It is time some serious action was taken to make this hospital fit for purpose. mavrick
  • Score: 15

6:48pm Wed 30 Jul 14

bethsmum says...

I had traumatic birth at rbh and lots of mistakes made my daughter was starved of oxygen they kept saying the machine wasnt working when it was a true reading luckily shes fine but id have sued too if she hadnt been good luck in your fight to improve the place as it needs it .
I had traumatic birth at rbh and lots of mistakes made my daughter was starved of oxygen they kept saying the machine wasnt working when it was a true reading luckily shes fine but id have sued too if she hadnt been good luck in your fight to improve the place as it needs it . bethsmum
  • Score: 7

1:39am Fri 1 Aug 14

katypri says...

Such a shame just lost my husband to lung cancer so I know his pain, but my husband got excellent care at St James' Leeds, money needs to be put into A&E they are over stretched, but will be when they are paying Private Funded Units for Mental Health Rehab £150,000+ per year per patient and they keep them 2 years, costing £300,000 + and have 32 beds just add that up and thats just one unit in Blackburn, they are in no hurry to get them well being paid that amount they are no longer patience but money cows, when family are totally against private and want NHS services,
It is time the Care Commissioners and Funding Department addressed this and quickly, and used the wasted money for essential services, no I am not knocking Mental Health Patiences they are the once being abused kept in these places once they are well, as there is nothing to measure them by and these services can write what they want to keep them their hope this man gets answers but cannot get his wife back,
Such a shame just lost my husband to lung cancer so I know his pain, but my husband got excellent care at St James' Leeds, money needs to be put into A&E they are over stretched, but will be when they are paying Private Funded Units for Mental Health Rehab £150,000+ per year per patient and they keep them 2 years, costing £300,000 + and have 32 beds just add that up and thats just one unit in Blackburn, they are in no hurry to get them well being paid that amount they are no longer patience but money cows, when family are totally against private and want NHS services, It is time the Care Commissioners and Funding Department addressed this and quickly, and used the wasted money for essential services, no I am not knocking Mental Health Patiences they are the once being abused kept in these places once they are well, as there is nothing to measure them by and these services can write what they want to keep them their hope this man gets answers but cannot get his wife back, katypri
  • Score: 2

2:44am Fri 1 Aug 14

OSSYGEE says...

The same repetitive response again and again by the trust. in Oct 2012 my mother in law was sent to A & E and not tho High Dependancy Unit as per the so called "hand over" . a few hours later it got noticed , by then it was to late . And then brushed aside by the trust by usual PR. Even a child learn's by their mistakes. the trust says it will, some TWO years on. What have they learnt or implemented . NOTHING.
The same repetitive response again and again by the trust. in Oct 2012 my mother in law was sent to A & E and not tho High Dependancy Unit as per the so called "hand over" . a few hours later it got noticed , by then it was to late . And then brushed aside by the trust by usual PR. Even a child learn's by their mistakes. the trust says it will, some TWO years on. What have they learnt or implemented . NOTHING. OSSYGEE
  • Score: 2

12:14pm Fri 1 Aug 14

ossym says...

My Mother went in to the MAU BRI, she was in fact dying of cancer.
They gave her a saline drip, and Mum's end was very peaceful with me and my brother holding her hands all through.
It all happened quite quickly and I tend to think she was helped a bit on her way as it all happened so smoothly for which I would thank them so much.

PS
Love you Mum.
My Mother went in to the MAU BRI, she was in fact dying of cancer. They gave her a saline drip, and Mum's end was very peaceful with me and my brother holding her hands all through. It all happened quite quickly and I tend to think she was helped a bit on her way as it all happened so smoothly for which I would thank them so much. PS Love you Mum. ossym
  • Score: 2

12:21pm Fri 1 Aug 14

ossym says...

PPS Good Luck Mr McDonnald.
Very sorry for your loss.
PPS Good Luck Mr McDonnald. Very sorry for your loss. ossym
  • Score: 2

7:28am Mon 4 Aug 14

deeeeep5 says...

wow... either their alert wristbands were not clear enough or they just simple didn't check. If it was me, I'd be **** that the doctors/nurses did not check the patient id wristbands. Its there for a reason.
wow... either their alert wristbands were not clear enough or they just simple didn't check. If it was me, I'd be **** that the doctors/nurses did not check the patient id wristbands. Its there for a reason. deeeeep5
  • Score: 2

7:29am Mon 4 Aug 14

deeeeep5 says...

wow... either their alert wristbands were not clear enough or they just simple didn't check. If it was me, I'd be **** that the doctors/nurses did not check the patient id wristbands. Its there for a reason.
wow... either their alert wristbands were not clear enough or they just simple didn't check. If it was me, I'd be **** that the doctors/nurses did not check the patient id wristbands. Its there for a reason. deeeeep5
  • Score: 2

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