Learn the lessons from mum’s death

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THE family of a Kirkcaldy woman who died suddenly just a day after walking into an out-of-hours surgery at the Victoria Hospital, have expressed their disappointment that a fatal accident inquiry into her death has made no recommendations.

Jessie Taylor (65), of Turriff Place, a former classroom assistant at Dysart and Denend Primary Schools died from multiple organ failure caused by streptococcal sepsis and right lung pneumonia at Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline, on September 20, 2009 — the day after she had been admitted to Victoria Hospital complaining of flu-like symptoms.

An enquiry was held at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court after Mrs Taylor’s family raised fears that the hysteria surrounding swine flu may have influenced her treatment and that something had gone wrong with her care.

She had walked into an out-of-hours surgery at 2.05 p.m. on September 19, been alert and talking at 6 p.m., yet died the following morning.

In his findings, Sheriff Grant McCulloch highlighted the decision to admit her initially into ward seven, an infectious diseases ward, rather than A&E, as well as delays of four and a half hours in giving her fluids, oxygen and antibiotics as medical staff experienced problems in gaining intravenous access.

”All who considered what was actually done agreed that it was appropriate, but the overall picture was of delay, and that delay may have had a bearing on the outcome,” he said.

Disappointment

While Mrs Taylor’s daughters, Anne Mackie and Linda Leonard, said they agreed with Sheriff McCulloch’s ruling that their mother’s death could not have been avoided, they said it was a “great disappointment” no recommendations were made to prevent future delays in treatment, which could lead to the same thing happening to someone else.

“The family feels that there needs to be a protocol put in place that states when junior doctors cannot gain intravenous access to administer fluids and antibiotics to a critically-ill patient they should seek immediate assistance from more experienced staff,” said Mrs Mackie.

In his findings, Sheriff McCulloch noted it had been “generally accepted” the quicker that antibiotics and fluids are administered, the better the outcome.

However, he described suggestions things would have moved quicker in A&E as an “inappropriate comparison,” as he said the decision to admit the patient to ward seven was “reasonable” at the time.