"Catalogue of errors and poor communication at this..."

About: University Hospital Of North Durham

My sister in law went for an outpatient routine colonoscopy in relation to some polyps that had been identified on an abdominal scan (April 2012). She was sedated but conscious and heard the staff flirting and having a laugh during the procedure. The bowel wall was accidentally ruptured, and resulted in serious internal infection. After 3 months, a number of further operations and weeks of induced coma in ICU, she came out much weakened with a colostomy and barley strong enough to walk. During her stay, it was really difficult getting any information about her condition or progress. Clearly she wasn't able to tell us what the doctors were saying, and the nursing staff appeared to be more concerned with enforcing visiting times than communicating on the welfare of our loved one. Due to a further infection in her wound, she was rushed back in, again very poorly. This time we were told by a surgeon in green scrubs, on the ward, that she had only days to live, causing much distress. The following day we were told that he must have got the wrong patient. Apparently they couldn't identify who it was who had spoken to us and they didn't consider any further investigation into this was necessary. We were advised that she was too fragile for Durham to be able to help her further and she was to be transferred to the Freeman as they had greater expertise. When she arrived, late in the evening, it transpired that the staff at Durham had forgotten to send her notes in the ambulance with her, so there was hours delay before they could do anything. The staff attitude and care at the Freemen was on the other end of the scale. Sadly they discovered a malignant tumour in part of her liver. During scans in Durham spots on the liver had been identified but we were told they were nothing to worry about. Normally they could have operated on the tumour, with a fair chance of success, but due to my sister in law's massively weakened state they were unable to do anything, giving her about 4 months to live. After several months, of reasonable stability, she was admitted to Durham again in severe pain. We were told she had a chest infection which was treatable and that the tests had shown the tumour hadn't grown. The very next morning we were told that she hadn't got a chest infection and there was nothing more they could do for her. She died last week. I pray neither I nor any of my family have to use the services of this hospital.

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Response from University Hospital Of North Durham

Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences of University Hospital of North Durham. On behalf of County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust, please accept my sincere condolences and unreserved apology for the care experienced by your sister in law and family. I would be grateful if you would contact us, in order that we can investigate your concerns. You can email, telephone or write to us at: patient.experience @cddft.nhs.uk tel: 0800 783 5774 Patient Experience Team, Estates Offices, Hollyhurst Rd, Darlington, DL3 6HX.