Hospital authorities have been forced to apologise and pay out compensation after a man with Down’s syndrome was starved for nine days due to a huge blunder
A shocking blunder that resulted in the death of a man in hospital has resulted in his grieving family being awarded the maximum compensation available.
The 56-year-old man, who had Down’s syndrome and dementia and was being treated for a broken hip, died after going nine days without being given food when he had his patient notes marked up as “nil by mouth” because he had difficulty swallowing. He was not given fluid food either resulting in his condition deteriorating and he died from pneumonia at Poole General Hospital, Dorset, in 2021.
The hospital, which paid £15,000 in compensation, has apologised for the mistake and added that systems within the establishment had been changed to make sure it did not happen again. The family’s solicitor, speaking to the BBC, said the “shocking mismanagement” of nutrition had caused the man’s subsequent severe deterioration and death.
The man was put into care after being looked after by his parents for most of his life, their solicitor Adrian Cormack said. However, he fell and fractured his hip on his first night at a Bournemouth care home. The solicitor said the patient was admitted to Poole Hospital and was listed as “nil by mouth” because he had difficulty swallowing.
There was then a crucial lack of communication between hospital teams over the patient’s deteriorating condition, Mr Cormack said and senior clinicians did not heed attempts by nursing staff to escalate care. NHS Resolution, which settled the family’s claim, said “on balance of probability, the admitted breach of duty caused a deterioration… and he would not have died when he did”, according to the solicitor.
The care home, which did not admit liability, paid the family £7,500 and Mr Cormack added: “This was a shocking case. It was mismanagement by the hospital. Sadly, the damages for statutory bereavement are limited by law to just £15,120. This is wholly inadequate for bereaved families who have lost loved ones.”
NHS Resolution said it was unable to comment. Siobhan Harrington, chief executive of University Hospitals Dorset, said: “We offer our sincere condolences once again to the family and have apologised for the failings that resulted in his death. We have implemented a number of changes following this and have shared these with the family.”
The horrific incident follows on from a shocking case last year where an elderly woman died 28 days after carers stopped giving her food or water. Sarene Taylor, 88, was sent back from a hospital in North Wales to die in a care home after foods and fluids were withdrawn. Her son, Rob Taylor, said that her end-of-life care was “inhumane” and “heartbreaking” for the family.