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Hospital blunder left man in agony

THE family of a man who died in agony in Wycombe Hospital are hoping lessons will be learnt from his death.

Solicitor Alison Miller, speaking on behalf on the family of Ronald Parsons, 62, said there were key issues concerning Mr Parsons' death which need to be addressed by Wycombe Hospital.

Mr Parsons, of Patches Field, Marlow Bottom, went to hospital on October 23 to receive intravenous injections of antibiotics but ended up having to stay overnight in the Accident and Emergency department because the hospital could not find a bed for him.

Mr Parsons, who was terminally ill with cancer, then received an overdose of morphine 24 times the correct amount at 11am on October 24, when Denise Brook, an A &E nurse, mistakenly used a one-hour pump and not a 24-hour pump to administer the drug.

An antidote was given by doctors and Mr Parsons spent the next few hours in extreme pain before dying in the early evening.

A jury at a High Wycombe inquest last Friday gave a verdict that Mr Parsons died of pneumonia due to secondary cancer, with his death hastened by the overdose and subsequent antidote.

Ms Miller said: "The family feel vindicated by the verdict. Their main concerns are really that these sort of incidents do not happen to anyone else."

The family heard at the inquest, held at Wycombe Magistrates Court, how A & E staff were being given extra roles due to the problems of staff shortages and lack of resources.

David Potts, A & E consultant, told the inquest, that the pump used on Mr Parsons was not normally used in A & E and that many staff were unaware that there were one-hour pumps.

He said: "I totally sympathise with the family. Mr Parsons was in a setting that was totally inappropriate."

Mr Potts added that mechanisms were now in place to ensure mix-ups concerning pumps should not recur.

Ms Miller said hospital chiefs need to make sure one-hour and 24-pumps were not mixed-up and that the A & E department was used correctly.

Ms Miller said: "The issues are the pumps, though the hospital has made sure that should not happen again."

She added: "Mr Potts said the A & E department was being used to provide the type of care that the main hospital should be doing because beds are not being made available.

"People who should go into A & E and be admitted aren't going through."

Buckinghamshire coroner Richard Hulett has also written into Roy Darby, chief executive of South Buckinghamshire NHS trust to express his concerns.

Martin Leaver, spokesman for Wycombe Hospital, said an investigation was carried out with procedures changed so that a similar incident should not occur.

He said: "The South Buckinghamshire NHS Trust regrets the circumstances of Mr Parsons' death and offers its sincere condolences to his family."

Mr Leaver added: "We know of the coroner's concerns. We have received his letter and will address the issues raised."

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