Lister Hospital blunder led to patient’s death

13:06 15 March 2012

Lisa Selwood

Lisa Selwood

Archant

FAILURE to provide basic care led to the death of a 30-year-old patient at Lister Hospital in Stevenage, after an artery was punctured during routine surgery to remove an ovarian cyst.

The parents of Lisa Selwood, who was born in Hitchin and lived in Stevenage’s Hopton Road, hope highlighting their daughter’s story will help prevent further deaths.

When Miss Selwood underwent keyhole surgery in the day surgery theatre at Lister, an artery was accidentally punctured, causing a major haemorrhage and subsequent cardiac arrest.

It left her in a persistent vegetative state and she died four months later from pneumonia.

An inquest into her death revealed that there were staff shortages at Lister and difficulty in getting blood.

In addition, the attending anaesthetist said: “The staff were not trained to cope with this kind of thing,” and the equipment was not of the standard he would have hoped for.

There was no blood readily available, despite a major haemorrhage being one of the known risks of the surgery.

“The risk is not high enough to justify preparing blood in these cases”, Yassin Fagier, speciality registrar in obstetrics and gynaecology at Lister, explained at the inquest.

Instead of taking the predicted five to 10 minutes, blood did not arrive for 50 minutes.

Summing up, the coroner said: “I am satisfied there was a really serious or gross failure to provide basic care to Miss Selwood. This failure occurred because of the delay in Miss Selwood receiving appropriate units of blood.”

He said this constituted “neglect”.

The coroner also said: “The facilities available were not sufficient to prevent serious injury to the patient when this complication arose.”

Miss Selwood’s artery was punctured on August 19, 2009, and she died on Christmas Eve, 2009 – five days after her 30th birthday.

She had been planning to celebrate with a fancy dress party, going as pop star Lady GaGa.

Miss Selwood’s parents, Wendy Fadaka and Roger Selwood, said The East and North Herts NHS Trust, which runs Lister, paid out a £40,000 settlement last August.

“The law only allows a limited sum in compensation where there are no dependents,” explained Mr Selwood.

“It is a horrible process to have to negotiate a value on your daughter’s life.

“You cannot possibly compensate for the loss of a loved one.”

A number of changes have been made at Lister since Miss Selwood’s death. Blood is now readily available in the day surgery theatre, for instance.

Now Miss Selwood’s parents hope highlighting their daughter’s story will prevent more deaths.

Mrs Fadaka said: “I want to say what happened to her, to highlight the failings of the hospital, and to make other women aware to ask more questions. Are you going to have blood in the room? You expect them to have the back up.”

She added: “To walk into a hospital fit and healthy for what is a low risk, relatively minor operation and not to come out again is just unbelievable.”

Mr Selwood added: “Once this article is published, we will feel we have done everything we can for her.

“What she had to go through, and how she suffered, was horrific.

“I have never been the same since that day.

“Life is not the same for any of us.”

Michael Chilvers, medical director at the trust, said: “No operation can ever be entirely risk free. Our duty of care is to make sure we do everything we can to minimise those risks. However, every procedure, whether simple or complex, still carries a risk.

“As a trust, we deeply regret the series of events that contributed to Lisa’s death two years ago.

“Following this very sad incident, we undertook an immediate and thorough investigation, which was led by senior doctors and nurses.

“Lessons have been learnt and procedures reviewed and improved to ensure that such a combination of events cannot happen again.

“Through the investigation, actions were identified which have been fully implemented.

“We would like to say again how sorry we are to Lisa’s family.”

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