NHS GRAMPIAN HAS been ordered to apologise to the family of a Moray man after failing to detect that he was suffering from cancer or to recognise he was suffering from deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
The daughter of a patient identified only as ‘Mr A’ in the report felt forced to take the case of her late father to arbitration by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO), saying she and her family had felt let down by the treatment her father received at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin.
From first admission to the Moray hospital with what was identified as being a stroke, over four months Mr A was admitted to the hospital on three further occasions. During that period his condition deteriorated further, his daughter raising concerns about pain he was suffering in his abdomen and back as well as swelling in his leg.
It was during his fourth admission that a scan revealed cancer, sadly Mr A died just a week later.
Upholding Mr A’s daughter’s complaint that the hospital had delayed reaching a diagnosis that her father was suffering from cancer, and that the hospital had failed to appropriately diagnose deep vein thrombosis being suffered by Mr A, the Ombudsman said: “We found that the symptoms Mr A had experienced were unusual, but should have alerted the board to the possibility of cancer at an earlier stage.
“We noted that the cancer was aggressive in nature and early detection would not have likely altered Mr A’s outcome. We found that the board did fail to recognise the DVT in this case. We were critical of the limited records regarding checks for DVT.
“Finally, we had some concerns about delays in the board’s handling of [the daughter’s] complaints.”
The Ombudsman recommended that NHS Grampian apologise to the family for the failings identified in their investigation and feedback the findings to relevant staff at Dr Gray’s Hospital. It also asked that they remind relevant staff of the guidance surrounding assessments and checks for venous thromboembolism, including DVT.
NHS Grampian has also been advised to improve assessments and checks for venous thromboembolism, including DVT, and to apologise for the failings and complaints handling that the investigation identified.
Asking insideMoray to observe their anonymity, which we are happy to do, Mr A’s family issued a statement they wished to be made public. We are happy to publish that in full.
“Twenty-one months ago, we lost the bravest and most incredible man. A loving and devoted husband, a dedicated and much loved father, papa and pops, and a caring son, brother, uncle and friend which has left a monumental gaping hole in not only our lives, but also in our hearts.
“Despite our best efforts to have Doctors and Consultants at Dr Gray’s Hospital listen to our concerns about our loved one’s health, ultimately by the time the diagnoses came it was too late, even though at one point he spent thirty-three days in the hospital.
“We had to fight every single step of the way to get tests carried out and at one point had to threaten to go the Chief Executive of NHS Grampian to get a CT Scan done which proved he had a further two infarcts. We find this wholly and completely unacceptable.
“Although an earlier cancer diagnoses may not have changed the outcome, it would have given us all time. Time to cherish his final months, time to come to terms with the diagnoses and time to carry out his last wishes.
“We took him home from hospital the day we were told he only had a few months to live. All he wanted to do was go fishing one last time, however, thirty-six hours after he left hospital his health declined rapidly and heartbreakingly, he passed away at home with his wife and two daughters by his side only seven very short days after his diagnoses.
“We as a family will never forgive those responsible at Dr Gray’s and they should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. They failed in their duty of care to the best husband, dad, papa and pops and were complacent with their diagnoses and treatment.
“They robbed us of not only this wonderful man, but also of the short time he had left. Our only hope now is that no other patient and family will go through the hurt, pain and nightmare that we have all been through; hopefully lessons really have been learned.
“We would like to thank the dedicated nurses in the Stroke Ward who looked after this wonderful man and showed us support through the nightmare, such a pity the medical staff didn’t share the same compassion and ethos. Each patient is a person, a person with loved ones and family who adore them and Dr Gray’s hospital would do good to remember this in the future.
“The SPSO gave the board thirty-three days in which to write a letter of apology to us. Thirty-three days in which to make the recommended changes to their policies and procedures.
“However, the letter of apology did not come, instead a letter from Malcom Wright, Chief Executive of NHS Grampian to inform me that they had to apply for an extension.
“I have since contacted the board and told them their apology was no longer required, if they could not send it out within the allocated time, it made any future apology invalid and completely meaningless. It was our hope that the apology would bring us some kind of closure, which we will never have now.
“We are so very disappointed and dismayed at Dr Gray’s Hospital and feel completely let down by them. All we wanted was a meaningful apology and they even denied us that.
“The main consultant who treated this wonderful man has since now retired; retired with his golden handshake and reputation intact. We say to this consultant now…you have destroyed lives and you will never be forgiven.”
insideMoray provided a copy of this article to NHS Grampian for comment but no reply was received.