Man died after Rotherham hospital failed to check blood tests

A 72-year-old man whose leg was badly burned died after doctors at Rotherham hospital failed to check blood test results.

The man died after a "breakdown" in communications which led to blood test results not being checked
The man died after a "breakdown" in communications which led to blood test results not being checked

The pensioner had collapsed in a health club steam room, suffering burns stretching from mid-thigh to lower calf, but was not sent to a specialist burns unit for 13 days.

During that time he became gravely ill due to infection and worsening sepsis. When he finally arrived at the burns unit, he suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

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His family has now been paid a six-figure sum in damages, after Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust admitted errors in his treatment.

A Serious Incident Review into his death identified "a lack of escalation and management of deteriorating patient", and a "breakdown" in communications which led to test results, which had been requested and carried out, not being checked.

If they had been checked with the swab results, intravenous rather than oral antibiotics would have been given, and more frequent observations made, which would have prevented the man's death.

The man's daughter, who asked to be unnamed, said her mum worked in the hospital and they raised concerns about the wounds which appeared to be getting worse, but were brushed off.

At one stage staff even suggested his mental health was failing.

After seven days he was referred to the burns unit at Sheffield Northern General Hospital, but there were no vehicles available with oxygen.

His family said they offered to take him there themselves, but were not allowed.

The doctor who had referred him to the unit was not made aware that he had not gone - meaning he was not reviewed again or provided with wound dressing and treatment.

She said: "I found out just five days after he died that I was pregnant with his first grandchild. He would have doted on her.

"My mum worked in medical care within the hospital and she saw the danger signs. She was worried he may lose his leg.

"We did challenge and question things but we wish now that we had been more forceful. Everything we said was just brushed off.

“My father died because staff were simply not passing on details which made the difference between life and death.

"Doctors making decisions didn’t have the right information at hand. There were many, many people involved in his care at the hospital yet not one person took responsibility."

She said that her mum left her job at the hospital afterwards as she would "be seeing the people whose mistakes ultimately cost my dad his life. “

She added: "The people who were supposed to care for him when he needed it let him down and took him from us. We can’t forgive them.”

Medical negligence claims specialist Gemma Bontoft, of Hudgell Solicitors, which acted for the family, said: “It was an appalling standard of care.

"Sadly, we see far too many cases where the most simple tasks, and the most basic mistakes, cost lives."

Dr Callum Gardner, Interim Medical Director at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, said: “On behalf of the Trust, I would like to offer a heartfelt apology and my sincerest condolences to this patient’s family.

“We have undertaken a full and thorough investigation in order to understand what happened in this case and have taken a range of significant actions in response to this matter, including the introduction of new specialist teams, improved training, and a new procedure for the management of inpatients with burns.

“We continue to strive to provide high quality, safe care for the people of Rotherham, and are very sorry that on this occasion we did not meet those standards.”