HAILSHAM: ‘Lessons to be learned from woman’s death’

A HAILSHAM woman who suffered from severe respiratory problems died when her breathing tube came out in intensive care at Eastbourne DGH.

Rita Weston, who lived at London Road, died on March 28, 2010 and an inquest into her death was held at Eastbourne Magistrates Court last Thursday afternoon (June 9),

Coroner Alan Craze was told the 62-year-old, who was known to suffer from asthma and emphysema, had been admitted to the DGH on March 8 with shortness of breath and a wheezing chest. She received ventilation via a tracheostomy and was put on the intensive care unit at the hospital.

Nursing staff were closely monitoring Mrs Weston but just before midnight on March 27 a nurse noticed an alarm, which monitored her oxygen saturation levels, was beeping.

The nurses found the tube had come out and despite efforts from doctors and nurses, Mrs Weston was unable to be resuscitated.

Coroner Alan Craze was told the tube had fallen out on previous occasions but had been re-inserted easily, sometimes by Mrs Weston herself. Intensive care consultant Dr Barry Phillips explained the tube may have fallen out easily because Mrs Weston had been given a smaller one in an attempt to wean her off the tracheostomy and get her breathing normally.

Dr Phillips said, “By the 28th we were trying to normalise her which is why we had inserted the smaller tube.”

He added, “Her main goal was to get rid of the tracheostomy and eat and drink normally.”

Mr Craze and the doctors and nurses called to the inquest said they had no way of knowing when or how the tube had fallen out but agreed it was likely to have been shortly before the nurse heard the alarm because Mrs Weston’s saturation levels were still high when it was discovered it had become dislodged.

Mr Craze criticised DGH staff for their investigations afterwards. He said the statements had taken too long to get to him and important information, which could have determined when the tube came out, was not obtained by hospital staff at the time of Mrs Weston’s death and was now unavailable.

Mr Craze called for a meeting with hospital management and said, “We need to learn some lessons from this.”

A verdict of accidental death was recorded.