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Neglect contributed to Barnsley Hospital death.


Neglect by medical staff at Barnsley Hospital contributed to a patient’s death, an inquest heard.

Coroner Julian Fox said grandmother Lorraine Hargreaves, 64, of Elsecar, near Barnsley, was ‘forgotten’ in the system and linked her death to a catalogue of errors.

She had been admitted to Barnsley Hospital complaining of sickness during chemotherapy for non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which is survived by nearly half of patients who have the treatment.

Two junior doctors failed to treat her as an emergency and two nurses failed to carry out observations for nine hours, give her enough fluids or alert senior doctors.

Mrs Hargreaves, a mother of two, died less than 24 hours after being admitted in December 2012, when icy weather left staff struggling to cope.

Mrs Hargreaves, a betting shop worker, contracted neutropenic sepsis, a recognised side effect, in which the number of white blood cells to help the body fight infections are reduced. The condition has a ten per cent mortality rate.

A staff nurse said she thought Mrs Hargreaves was ‘very ill’ when she was transferred to the acute medical unit at 5.30pm on the ‘chaotic’ afternoon of December 14, 2012.

Two junior doctors, Dr Ugo Ihekwaba and Dr Johannah Cook, looked at her blood results but failed to call a registrar.

Ward sister, Kerry Barron, was under the impression Mrs Hargreaves had been seen by a doctor while this did not happen until 7am the next day. She claimed her workload was ‘unmanageable’ due to short-staffing and the weather.

The inquest heard Mrs Hargreaves should have been given up to four litres of fluid to increase her blood pressure - instead she was given a litre in 16 hours.

Head acute oncologist Dr Julian Humphrey said: “This was well below a proper standard of care.”

Barnsley Hospital NHS Trust took disciplinary action. The junior doctors have received extra training. The coroner asked the trust chief executive to re-examine the part played by the nurses.

Assistant Sheffield coroner, Mr Fox, said Lorraine Hargreaves died from neutropenia sepsis, a recognised complication of the treatment necessary for her cancer.

He said: “Mrs Hargreaves did not receive the medical attention she required, partly because of the weather conditions but principally because her treatment was not escalated when her abnormal blood results were seen.

“She was also not provided with sufficient intravenous fluid to maintain her blood pressure. There is a direct link between these circumstances and Mrs Hargreaves’ sad death which was contributed to by neglect.”