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Errors at West Suffolk hospital contributed to woman's death

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Inquest finds Susan Warby, 57, received insulin she did not need after blood test mistakes. Hospital errors contributed to her death five weeks after bowel surgery, an inquest into her death has concluded.

Susan Warby, 57, who died at West Suffolk hospital in Bury St Edmunds, was incorrectly given glucose instead of saline through an arterial line that remained in place for 36 hours and resulted in inaccurate blood test readings. She was subsequently given insulin she did not need, causing bouts of extremely low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and the development of “a brain injury of uncertain severity”, recorded Suffolk’s senior coroner, Nigel Parsley.

Speaking after the inquest was adjourned in January, Susan's husband, Jon Warby, said he was “knocked sideways completely” when he received an anonymous letter two months after her death highlighting blunders in her treatment.

Doctors at the hospital were reportedly asked for fingerprints as part of the hospital’s investigation into the letter, a move described by a Unison trade union official as a “witch-hunt” designed to identify the whistleblower.

Following January’s adjournment, Parsley instructed an independent expert to review the care that Warby received. Warby’s medical cause of death was recorded as multi-organ failure, with contributory causes including septicaemia, pneumonia and perforated diverticular disease, affecting the bowel.

Recording a narrative conclusion, Parsley wrote: “Susan Warby died as the result of the progression of a naturally occurring illness, contributed to by unnecessary insulin treatment caused by erroneous blood test results. This, in combination with her other comorbidities, reduced her physiological reserves to fight her naturally occurring illness.”

Jon Warby said in a statement: “The past two years have been incredibly difficult since losing Sue, and it is still a real struggle to come to terms with her no longer being here. The inquest has been a highly distressing time for our family, having to relive how Sue died, but we are grateful that it is over and we now have some answers as to what happened."

“After learning of the errors in Sue’s care, I wanted to know how these occurred and what action was being taken to prevent any similar incidents in the future. The trust has now made a number of changes which I am pleased about.”

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Source: The Guardian, 7 September 2020

 

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