100-year-old’s death hastened by poor care, family claim

11:46 26 April 2012

Chrisine Rees with the memorial service programme for her aunt.

Chrisine Rees with the memorial service programme for her aunt.

Archant

A woman has claimed the death of her 100-year-old aunt was hastened by poor care at Lister Hospital after she was left on a trolley in a freezing entranceway.

Christine Rees of Minehead Way, Stevenage accompanied her aunt to A&E with a suspected fractured leg in December. During a ten-hour ordeal, she said she was left in the doorway of the department in freezing conditions without blankets, water or adequate pain relief.

Esther Seager who suffered polio as a child was taken to the hospital shortly before 4pm after an accident at Martins House care home in Jessop Road.

On arrival she was placed on a trolley by the automatic doors to await assessment.

Mrs Rees said she had to ask for extra blankets and pillows and requested her aunt be moved somewhere warmer, but this was only done after some time, when she was taken to a trauma room.

The two public water coolers in the department were also empty, as were the hand sanitizers, and Mrs Rees had to ask for water to be brought to her aunt.

“They could have taken into consideration that she was 100-years-old. It would have made a difference just to put her in a proper bed,” the 64-year-old said.

“All they wanted to do was get rid of her. The second doctor we saw was so off hand. Even the sister I spoke to, she listened to me but nothing was done to make her more comfortable. There was no compassion. They did not care.”

Miss Seager, a spinster, was not x-rayed until around 9pm. The result showed the leg was not broken and she was told at around 10.45 she would be taken home.

But Mrs Rees insisted they should have kept her in to manage her pain which was severe she said.

“When the doctor touched her leg she made a terrible sound. They should have kept her in and seen how she was in the morning.”

Ambulance transport took another two hours to arrive and she was not finally put to bed at Martins House until 2am.

Mrs Rees said the whole ordeal was heartbreaking.

“I want them to think that you are not just a nuisance. It’s not just ‘I’ve got to get rid of you because I’ve got to do proper work’, she said.

Miss Seager died four days later. She had refused her prescribed medication as well as food and drink after returning to Martins House, her niece said.

“She just gave up and died,” she added. “My family and I feel that the way she was treated hastened her death.

“She was very private, very dignified – and certainly there was none of that.

“After such a long life this was an appalling way for it to end.”

The family made an official complaint to the East and North Herts NHS Trust which manages the hospital.

Chief executive Nick Carver apologised for a series of failures including the need to ask for bedding and the lack of water in the machines, blaming the busy period. He said stock levels would be monitored more closely.

He apologised for the lack of pain management saying the incident will be “fed back to the team”, and the long wait for an x-ray, and to be transported home.

“There is a queuing system for the x-ray department, however it should be noted that delays can occur particularly when acutely ill patients present, who are then given priority over existing patients primarily due to their urgent requirement,” he said.

He added: “I am very sorry that the wait for transport took over two hours. Unfortunately the demand on our transport service is such, that two hours is the average waiting time.”

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