Hospital pays widow £14,000

A HOSPITAL has apologised and paid a widow £14,000 after her elderly husband died following a “series of errors” by staff who cared for him.Stanley Markham, 78, was admitted to the West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, in April 2001.

A HOSPITAL has apologised and paid a widow £14,000 after her elderly husband died following a “series of errors” by staff who cared for him.

Stanley Markham, 78, was admitted to the West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, in April 2001. He died seven days later when septicaemia led to multiple organ failure.

His widow, Doris, was unavailable for comment last night following the settlement, but her solicitor said the tragedy could have been avoided.

Sharon Cutts, of the Thetford-based clinical negligence specialists Cunningham John, said: “There was a series of errors involved in Mr Markham's death, all of which cause concern over the systems employed in West Suffolk Hospital.”


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In an out of court settlement, the trust has paid Mrs Markham £14,000.

A hospital spokesman said: “The trust apologises unreservedly for the failing of care and treatment Mr Markham received at the hospital. The trust has paid £14,000 to Mrs Markham.”

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Mr Markham, of Sudbury, was taken ill on the afternoon of April 30, 2001 with acute stomach pains. He was assessed at the hospital and it was decided surgery was not needed.

However, a subsequent x-ray showed an abnormal shadow on the abdomen. A consultant requested further x-rays, but a radiologist is alleged to have declined and instead suggested a scan – which was never carried out.

That evening Mr Markham was diagnosed with diverticultis (inflammation of the colon) and treated with antibiotics.

Overnight his condition deteriorated and an on-call registrar was called, but did not examine Mr Markham until 6am the next morning, by which time urgent surgery was needed.

By this time Mr Markham had a perforation of the bowel and faeces had contaminated his abdominal cavity. He suffered septicaemia, which led to multiple organ failure and he died on May 6.

After his death Mrs Markham applied through the NHS complaints procedure for an independent review, but was refused. She then went to the NHS Ombudsman, who found in her favour in what is described as a “very critical” report.

Having already experienced long delays in attempting to correspond with the West Suffolk Hospitals Trust, Mrs Markham instructed her solicitors to pursue the claim on her behalf.

Ms Cutts said: “The ombudsman's report was very critical. It is clear that the registrar failed to recognise the importance of the request for the second x-ray or the need to notify the consultant when his request was refused. He also refused to take up the offer of the CT scan.

“There was a failure to recognise and respond to the signs of deterioration first noted during the night, and when surgery was urgently required there was a failure to inform the consultant in charge of Mr Markham's case. This resulted in a further delay of three hours in which Mr Markham continued to deteriorate.

“Had proper investigation been undertaken following his admission, Mr Markham would have been appropriately scanned and the cause of the abnormal shadow would have been established earlier.

“Emergency surgery would have been carried out and there would have been an excellent chance the septicaemia would have been avoided. Mrs Markham had to endure her husband's deterioration and eventual death and then his inquest. The way her complaints were handled could only add to her considerable distress.”

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