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Pensioner felt 'robbed of her life by a negligent nurse'

PUBLISHED: 11:15 31 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:28 31 January 2019

The inquest into the death of Ruth Whitmore at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, was opened today.  Photo: The Queen Elizabeth Hospital

The inquest into the death of Ruth Whitmore at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, was opened today. Photo: The Queen Elizabeth Hospital

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital

A 91-year-old woman felt she had been robbed of her life by a negligent nurse.

Ruth Whitmore from South Wootton died from pneumonia in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King’s Lynn on April 13, 2018.

She had been admitted on New Year’s Day suffering bilateral pulmonary emboli.

But she later suffered a knee injury whilst in hospital, after which her condition deteriorated.

An inquest into her death, before Norfolk’s senior coroner Jacqueline Lake, resumed today at Lynn magistrates court.

A statement made by Mrs Whitmore before she died was read out.

She said she suffered a painful blister on her left knee when her leg became trapped in a bed rail as a male nurse was turning her on the night of January 6/7. She said she told the nurse but he ignored her.

When she removed the leg herself, she noticed significant bruising.

The bruise deteriorated and became infected, said Mrs Whitmore, who lost all mobility in her leg.

“I am now confined to a specially-adapted wheelchair,” she added. “I am unable to walk. I feel very bitter. I have been robbed of my life due to the negligence of a nurse.”

The injury was noticed by a health care assistant (HCA) the following day. Leverington Ward, where the injury occurred, was being staffed by three HCAs on the night shift when it happened.

Carers Nobin Mathew and Paul Marks told the coroner they had no recollection of what happened on that shift.

Both were warned they were on oath and must tell the truth. Both insisted they could not remember.

An inquest originally due to be heard on August 31 was adjourned after it emerged the nurse leading an internal investigation at the QEH had not taken statements from staff who were present on the night Mrs Whitmore was injured.

Matron Karen Strong said she did not speak to them until October, when the two said they had no recollection.

In her summing up, Mrs Lake said Mrs Whitmore was a “bright, independent lady”.

She said Mrs Whitmore suffered “significant bruising” in the incident, but it was not noted down in hospital records.

Mrs Lake concluded the cause of death was pneumonia, but said her death was contributed to by her leg injury.

She added: “There was a gross failure to provide basic care to someone in a vulnerable position.”

Mrs Lake said she was also concerned that the senior nurse on duty did not realise she was in charge of the ward.

Caroline Shaw, chief executive at the QEH, said: “I would like to apologise to the family of Mrs Whitmore for the incident in which her leg was caught in a bed rail. This should not have happened while Mrs Whitmore was in our care.

“The trust takes all cases of this nature very seriously and always looks for ways in which we can learn and improve the care we give to our patients. We will also be taking on board the comments made by the coroner. I would like to send my condolences to the family.”

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