Aldeburgh/Ipswich: Hospital makes ward changes after death

A NUMBER of changes have been made to patient care at Ipswich Hospital following the death of an 80-year-old woman, an inquest has heard.

Diana Hands, of Linden Close, Aldeburgh, died on September 15, 2010. She had been in Ipswich Hospital’s Haughley Ward for more than two weeks after initially being admitted with shortness of breath.

The inquest was told that her condition had deteriorated and she began to suffer from an extreme bout of delirium - the worst case consultant physician Dr Tim Lockington had seen in 17 years.

Greater Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean heard evidence that Mrs Hands had suffered a number of falls during her time on the ward, caused by involuntary movements during periods of “distressing” agitation.

The inquest into the death of Mrs Hands, who had a number of underlying medical conditions, heard that the cause of death was recorded as sepsis, caused primarily by bronchopneumonia and cellulitis.

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Giving evidence Dr Lockington said that Mrs Hands had been living independently and was capable of walking a quarter of a mile before being admitted.

But he said she had a “constellation” of medical conditions and suffered from epilepsy and had heart problems including calcification of the aortic valve and heart failure.

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The inquest at Landmark House was told that she had become more difficult to examine and treat as she became more agitated and disorientated.

A senior matron from the hospital said Mrs Hands had not been given a one-to-one nurse to help her because the ward did not have the required resources.

The inquest was told that concerned members of Mrs Hands’ family, who had been at her bedside, had requested a dedicated nurse on several occasions but to no avail and that it had taken several hours to move her to a low-level bed that would help prevent falls.

Head Matron Viv Barker, who is responsible for the care of older patients at Ipswich Hospital, said 20 additional low-level beds had already been purchased and new measures were in place to boost staffing levels both during the day and overnight.

She said: “There have been changes which have reduced the risks of patients falling. We have improved the environment significantly on Haughley (Ward) - there’s less noise and better lighting and a new day room.

“The nursing on Haughley has changed significantly over the last 18-20 months. Now there is a more flexible response to such situations.”

In recording a narrative verdict, Dr Dean said: “We have heard a lot about what was clearly an incredibly difficult situation for the family who were affected by what was clearly a very distressing time but also a difficult time for healthcare professionals who were trying to treat a range of clinical problems and operating against a background of resources constraints.”

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