Lawyers welcome changes at Lancaster private hospital following mother’s death but say individuals must be held to account 
 4/8/2016

Lawyers acting for the family of a woman who died following appalling errors at a Lancaster hospital have welcomed changes made in light of her death and said it is vital that future tragedies are prevented.

BMI the Lancaster Hospital Meadowside has written to coroner Dr James Adeley to tell him what action it had taken to address serious concerns he had about its failures in care. 

Mother-of-two Sally Ann Tooze-Froggatt was just 52 when she died from a deep vein thrombosis days after knee surgery in April 2015. Factors that included a strong family history of DVT and her taking the combined contraceptive pill, which put her at high risk, were not acted on by the hospital. 

Matt Tippin, a specialist medical negligence solicitor at law firm JMW who is acting for the family, said although the response from the BMI showed it had taken learning lessons seriously, the individuals involved in her care must be held to account.. He said: “The errors in Sally’s case were shocking and showed little regard for her safety.

"It is reassuring that the hospital has acknowledged that things needed to change however it is extremely sad that a much loved mother and wife had to die for that to happen. As well as making these top level changes to policy it is vital that the individuals involved are held to account and appreciate the errors were completely unacceptable. As such we are taking legal action on the family’s behalf against the surgeon with overall responsibility for her care as well as the BMI. We hope to give Sally’s family the peace of mind that the risk of this happening to anyone else is minimised.” 

Sally’s husband Paul Froggatt, 54, said the whole family had been left distraught by her death. He said: “Nothing can bring Sally back and our lives have been devastated as a result. Sally went into hospital for a routine knee operation and days later she had died, which is very difficult for us to comprehend. How do you come to terms with the fact that opportunities to prevent her death were missed?  I don’t think you can but it would bring us comfort to know that these mistakes will not be made again and no other patients will suffer as Sally did.”

Sally’s son, Peter Tooze-Froggatt, said: “Because of what happened, my mum, and the family, will miss many precious years together, including my sister’s wedding and holding her first grandchild. She worked at Dallas Road School in Lancaster, where she had done for many years as a teaching assistant, but also as a piano teacher privately. She loved helping others, and would always put their needs before her own. She will not only be missed by her family, but anyone who knew her: be it her colleagues and pupils, or even those who knew her just in passing.”

Sally should have been advised by the hospital to stop taking the combined contraceptive pill weeks before surgery and offered preventative treatment due to her family history however a catalogue of errors meant this never happened. 

The coroner criticised inadequate training of staff, a failure by nurses to correctly identify the risks, inform consultants of Sally’s risk factors and the failure of the surgeon and anaesthetist to review her risk assessment in theatre which meant opportunities to prevent her death were missed. He also found a follow up call that should have been made by the hospital the day after her discharge was not done because it was a bank holiday meaning warning signs that she had developed a DVT were not picked up.

The hospital’s internal investigation into her death was also found by the coroner to be deficient in a number of areas and the corporate Duty of Candour was not followed. Worryingly, the BMI policy on preventing DVTs not only failed to meet NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) standards, it actively contradicted them in some respects and is a policy which may have been in use at other BMI hospitals. 

The hospital has now apologised for the errors and produced a plan outlining the actions it has taken and changes it has made. These include:

Preoperative assessment policy has changed so that nurses must now confirm that consultants have been made aware of any DVT risk factors.• Risk assessment forms updated to reflect it has been reviewed by a consultant pre theatre and in theatre. 

Retraining of staff in prevention of DVT.

Process put in place to ensure staff are on a rota to complete follow up calls to all discharged patients and an out-of-hours medical worker to make calls when the hospital is closed within 24-hours of discharge. 

Ends

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Kelly Hindle or Samantha Meakin on the details below:

Kelly Hindle
D. 0161 828 1868

E. Kelly.hindle@jmw.co.uk 

Samantha Meakin

Samantha.meakin@jmw.co.uk 

Note to Editors

JMW Solicitors LLP is a leading Manchester law firm and offers a broad range of legal services to both commercial and private clients.JMW’s Clinical Negligence team is headed up by leading clinical negligence lawyer, Eddie Jones. http://www.jmw.co.uk/services-for-you/clinical-negligence/

 



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