"My Dad's death from Pneumonia"

About: South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw

(as a relative),

My Dad's COPD was being successfully managed by his Doctor's, Chest Nurse, myself and my brother. 3 inhalers, regular check ups, review of medication. He had frequent chest infections managed by antibiotics and, occasionally, steroids.

He became slightly ill with minor pain in his right side, a little hoarseness, and tiredness. At the age of 95 the latter was not unusual.

There was nothing significant to worry him, or us.

He went to bed on night in June. My brother found him dead in bed early the following morning.

This was a shock.

An autopsy/scan revealed Pneumonia as the primary cause of death.

It was only then that we were advised that, with COPD, Pneumonia was a stronger possibility. There was never any advice about the symptoms to look out for. No leaflets available. If we had been alert/alerted to the significance of the pain in his side we may have taken action.

All "ifs and buts" but we believe that the publicity regarding Pneumonia, a major cause of death in the elderly, is inadequate. The advice/warnings non-existant.

Why is this?

Dad had had a Pneomonia vaccination some years ago but apparently there is no top-up. Why is that?

A shock to us all and a very sad time.

He was 95 but with the mental capacity of a 40 year old, and the fitness of a 70 year old.

He passed away before his time.

There should be a campaign, advice, leaflets alerting the elderly and their relatives about the symptoms of this evil disease!

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Response from David Rowley, Commissioning Manager, NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group We are preparing to make a change

picture of David Rowley

Thank you for sharing your father’s story at what must be a difficult time for you.

During our recent patient engagement with respiratory patients, we have identified a project to provide education about COPD to patients with this condition. Some we found knew a lot and felt confident in how to manage their condition, where others not so much. The story of your father adds further weight to the value that this project will provide.

Pneumonia is a relatively common condition and it is often older people who may have long term conditions, like COPD, that are more susceptible to contracting it. The pneumonia vaccine is offered to everyone over the age of 65 and only one dose is required. The vaccination protects against the most common bacterial cause, but there are other bacteria and viruses that can cause pneumonia. Although the vaccine is very important it does not provide complete protection for patients against contracting pneumonia.

Whilst there is not a specific national campaign about pneumonia, as a Clinical Commissioning Group we are also working with GP Practices to develop Care Plans for those with long term conditions and are at risk of becoming unwell (which includes patients with COPD).

Once again, thank you for sharing your father's story on Patient Opinion.

  • Wise Old Owl thinks this response is helpful
    {{helpful-1}} other {{helpful-1 == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} so too

Update posted by Wise Old Owl (a relative)

I am reasonably happy with your response, and hope that there will be, very soon, a greater awareness among patients and medical staff around the causes, detection, symptoms and treatment of pneumonia. Too late for our Father and ourselves though!

Thank you.

Updates, changes and questions related to this story