Trust apologies for drugs death

Colin Whalley with his family
Colin Whalley with his family
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Health chiefs have offered their “unreserved apologies” to the family of a St Helens grandfather who died after being given a massive drugs overdose.

Colin Whalley was administered a whole day’s dose of aminophylline in under an hour.

Whiston Hospital

Whiston Hospital

A Nursing and Widwifery Council hearing cautioned former Whiston Hospital Mary Sanchez after finding she failed to properly administer the drug.

A spokeswoman for St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: “The Trust offers again sincere condolences to the family of the late Mr Colin Whalley, following his death in November 2011.

“The Trust has unreservedly apologised to Mr Whalley’s family for the error which meant that he received an infusion of medication over too short a period of time.

“The Trust quickly carried out a full investigation working openly with the Coroner and ensured that lessons were learned.

“Following the outcome of today’s Nursing and Midwifery Council hearing, the Trust will thoroughly review the findings and implement any further actions necessary.”

Mr Whalley, a great-grandfather who had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), had been admitted to Whiston Hospital with breathing problems in November 2011. He died two days later.

A hearing at the Nursing and Midwifery Council in London heard that Mr Whalley, who had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) should have been given two doses of aminophylline.

One dose was meant to be given undiluted over a 20-minute period and a second, in diluted form, over 24 hours. But the four day hearing heard that the second dose was administered incorrectly, undiluted in little more than an hour.

The panel accepted that Ms Sanchez’ had shown genuine remorse but were concerned that she did not seem to fully understand how the error had occurred.

As a result, the panel concluded that her fitness to practice remains impaired. The caution order will be removed from her record after a year.

Ms Sanchez’s colleague at Whiston Hospital Carmel Pendleton was also accused of misconduct as she had acted as second checker but failed to ensure the medication was administered correctly.

However, the panel concluded that despite her admission of misconduct her fitness to practice was not impaired.

In 2014, a coroner ruled that the incorrect administration of a drug by a Whiston Hospital nurse played “a significant role” in Mr Whalley’s death.

The much-loved grandfather-of-three and great-grandfather-of-five had suffered breathing difficulties since 2004, died at Whiston Hospital on November 18, 2011.

The inquest heard the nurse tasked with delivering the drug, Ms Sanchez, had earlier consulted a fellow nurse, a senior doctor and a ward pharmacist - who had specified on two occasions how it was to be administered.

She has since apologised to Mr Whalley’s family for her error.

In his narrative verdict, Mr Sumner accepted that Mr Whalley, who had been admitted to hospital with breathing problems two days earlier, “was a man in poor health”.

But he said: “The actual time that the drug took to be infused varies according to witnesses between 20 and 70 minutes. Whichever figure is taken, it is far less than the 24 hours required.”

Mr Whalley’s widow, Norma, 69, of Rivington Road, said: “I still get upset daily because only half of me is left. I’ve reached a settlement with the trust now but the money means nothing to me without Colin here. We had been planning our golden wedding anniversary but that’s all gone now.”