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.”