"Mistakes led to my son's death"

About: Wansbeck Hospital / General surgery

(as a relative),

In November of last year my son had a routine Hernia operation at Hexham hospital, everything went well but he was very sore after. Our nightmare started just over a week later. He was in a lot of pain but we had been told to expect this from the hospital, we realised he had lost some weight and when I asked him about it he said he felt sick when he thought of food - this from someone that could have eaten a horse had you put salt and pepper on it. The following day we picked him up from his flat that he shared with his girlfriend, he looked terrible. He sat down and he really was moaning with pain. I told him I was ringing the GP who arrived 20 minutes later. He looked at my son and told me he was sending him to hospital. He gave me a note which stated that my son had a blood clot and he rang the ambulance which arrived about 30 minutes later. It took the paramedics 15 minutes to get him into the ambulance as he was in so much pain, we had gone about 5 min and the paramedic in the back with us told the driver to put the blue lights on. I noticed my son’s arm had gone limp and he was being worked on - the driver was told to get us there as quickly as poss and to have the resus team ready. I was in a state of sheer panic by this time. They got my son round and he turned around and said ‘Mam I thought I had died’. He was crying and so was I. We eventually got to Wansbeck where my son was taken into resus. I was allowed in after 15 minutes. My son still looked ill but the colour had returned to his face. He told me to stop crying. I was told they had given him morphine and had done a couple of tests. About an hour later a Consultant came to seem my son, he told me my son was a fit young lad and he was not worried about him. I replied that I was very worried. I asked what they were going to do, he told me they were going to top my son’s pain relief up and send him home in a couple of hours. I was mortified and told him I did not agree with that and that my son had vomited blood and could not eat properly. He relented and they kept him in over night. He was put on a ward and his girlfriend and I went with him. He was really hot and asked his girlfriend to take his jogging pants off but to be careful as his legs were very sore. We mentioned this to a nurse but she just said ok. When we were leaving my son was becoming agitated again and I was worried he may stop breathing like he had in the ambulance. I stood 15 minutes trying to get the attention of the nurses who I overheard discussing their social life. I told them I was worried and they said they would see to him. I wasn’t convinced so I rang my son when I got home, he said he was tired because they had given him codeine so I wished him goodnight. The following day I rang my son in the morning. He said he was still tired. I told him I would see him later, and I rung the ward and asked how he had been. They told me he had had a comfortable night. I visited my son in the afternoon, his girlfriend was already there and was told they were discharging him. I wasn’t happy about this and expressed my opinion to the Dr who replied by saying that I could probably look after him better at home. I was gobsmacked. Anyway we came home but he vomited nearly all the way home. I said I would take him back in to Wansbeck. He replied by telling me I should stop being obsessive and that they had told him there was nothing wrong with him. He still could not eat properly and remained ill but had picked up slightly. At the beginning of December we had an appt with the doctor who told my son he was not going to examine him because ‘he didn’t look well’. His weight had been taken on the back in November before this appointment and he had been 12 stone 7. On this day, only 2-3 weeks on, he was 10 stone 2. We came out of the hospital and I made an appt at our GPs where he was given antibiotics. The following day my son rang and asked me to make him steak, chips and onions for his dinner. I was over the moon at last he was eating. We went out Christmas shopping and had a lovely day, his girlfriend rang that night to say he had never stopped eating, I was so pleased and went to bed happy for the first time in days. Two days later, my son rang to say he had a sore leg so me and his dad went round. I told him I would ring the Dr but he told me not to, he said he was going to have a bath and see if it helped. As we left the flat he was lying in the bath we were all laughing. He told us he would see us later and that he loved us, we shouted back that we loved him too. It was the last time we saw our beloved son alive, he died just after 3 o’clock. We couldn’t believe our normally 6ft 5ins fit and healthy son had gone. A police guard was put on his body in the morgue plus someone from Hexham hospital. No one could go and see him unless they were on a list. All his files were seized from Wansbeck. A post mortem showed that the blood clot had been dated to that first incident where he was taken in by ambulance. No one would sign a death certificate which we assumed was because mistakes had been made. A senior police officer came to see us and said that he normally dealt with murders or manslaughter cases but had been told to do ours. There were two postmortems, both were the same and dated the blood clot at the same date as the first. We had a meeting with the CEO, but all we got out of him was a sorry. An independent investigation was done which highlighted 18 mistakes had been made because the police seized all the paper work - it was all down in black and white. We had the inquest in early 2011, a narrative verdict was given. When asked about the abnormal ECG we were told it was probably because my son was tall and thin, but that the machine did not work properly anyway. Another Dr, who discharged my son without reading his notes or seeing him and sent him home with a news score of 4.5 (which is critical) was asked what role was his at Wansbeck, he replied he didn’t know. It was a catalogue of errors which cost my son his life. When a Dr was asked why the pathway wasn’t followed he argued it was, he was then asked if that was the case why did my son not have the CT scan. After 5 minutes of arguing he said that my son wasn’t given the scan because he could have got cancer in later life. An expert witness Dr said that my son could have been saved if they had given him the scan. To my understanding, the Consultant had overruled the GP's letter, an xray showing a patch on my son’s lung which was marked by the radiologist, a raised D.Dimer reading and a junior Dr saying he thought it was a blood clot. This was the same member of staff that flippantly told me "Your son is a young fit lad and I am not worried about him”.