MRSA - the lessons weren't learned

By Mark HeathA WIDOW whose husband died in hospital after contracting the killer bug MRSA has spoken of her anger that no lessons have been learned from his death.

By Mark Heath

A WIDOW whose husband died in hospital after contracting the killer bug MRSA has spoken of her anger that no lessons have been learned from his death.

Betty Nolan spoke to the East Anglian Daily Times as support continues to flood in for our campaign calling on the Government and NHS trusts to do more to stamp out MRSA in our hospitals.

We launched the Stamp Out MRSA crusade after exclusively reporting the death of Luke Day, who became the youngest victim of the bug when he died aged just 36 hours at Ipswich Hospital in February.

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Mrs Nolan's husband of 49 years, Patrick, died after suffering a heart attack at Ipswich Hospital in January 2001, five weeks after he was admitted following a stroke.

His cause of death was listed as a stroke, chest infection and septicaemia - but Mrs Nolan, from Washbrook, claimed MRSA had caused the latter infection.

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She felt cleanliness in the hospital had not been what she would have expected and added that, following her husband's death, the family were told changes would be made - a promise that she claimed had not been kept.

Mrs Nolan, 71, said. “One afternoon I went to see him and he was lying in urine - he got a bed sore and the MRSA got in through that.

“Another afternoon I went up to the hospital and Pat had dried sick all over his face and clothes. I had to wash his face and change his clothes myself.

“Pat was on four or five different wards in his five-and-a-half weeks there and the standard of cleanliness was not at all what you would expect. I would pick up handfuls of fluff from underneath his bed.”

She added: “He never got any treatment for MRSA before he died. They told me that he was due to start treatment the day after he died, but he had been diagnosed at least two weeks before that.

“I knew my husband would get MRSA because the man opposite him had got it and all the single rooms were full so he they couldn't move him.

“He got septicaemia as a result of the MRSA. When I asked why MRSA wasn't on the death certificate, I was told that a foreign doctor who had nothing to do with my husband's case signed it.

“We had a hearing with hospital management and they said it would all be looked into - but nothing has been done.”

Jan Rowsell, a spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital, said it had investigated all of the concerns raised by Mrs Nolan and her family four years ago.

“The results of this detailed investigation were personally discussed with Mrs Nolan by senior clinicians in 2001. The investigation addressed the issues of cleaning, nursing care, medication and contracting infection,” she added.

“In the four years which have followed this investigation, we have introduced specialist nurses, modern matrons and housekeepers in medicine for older people to address on the spot any concerns which patients, their loved ones and visitors may have about any aspect of their treatment, care or the ward environment.

“We believe that this is significantly helping us to provide services which are sensitive to both the needs of patients and their relatives.

“We are grateful to everyone who raises issues of concern to us so that we can thoroughly investigate and learn any lessons to avoid causing any distress or unease to patients and their families in the future.”

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