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Coroner's verdict of death contributed by 'neglect' at Colchester Hospital

A 62 year old woman died after she was mis-diagnosed in Colchester General Hospital

Posted on 16 February 2013

A 62 year old woman from Colchester died in May 2010 after she was mis-diagnosed in Colchester General Hospital and was continually administered the drugs whilst in the hospital that were causing her liver damage.
Linda Sears was 62 when she died on 26 May 2010. She lived with her husband Anthony in Essex. In 2008 she felt lethargic and went to see her GP who referred her to Colchester General Hospital. In 2009, she was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid.
In January 2010 she again began to feel unwell and went to Colchester General Hospital she was prescribed propylthiouracil (PTU). Neither Mrs Sears nor her husband were warned of the side affects of this drug, and that it could cause liver damage and death.
In early May 2010, Mrs Sears felt unwell. She began to turn yellow, she attended her GP and was told her to attend hospital straight away.
In A&E Mrs Sears was seen by an A&E doctor but no consultant or specialist was called. Mrs Sears was admitted to an assessment ward and she was continually administered the PTU.

Throughout Wednesday 5th May Mr Sears was concerned that a medical doctor had not seen his wife and he asked staff what was happening. Blood tests were taken which confirmed that Mrs Sears should be seen by a medical doctor not a surgeon, but Mrs Sears was taken to a surgical ward.
On 6 May Mrs Sears was seen by a consultant surgeon who referred her to the medical doctors as the blood tests showed that it was not a surgical problem. A request was made for Mrs Sears to be reviewed by a medical doctor, but no doctor came to review her.
Both Mr and Mrs Sears suggested to the medical professionals that it could be the medication she was taking which was making her ill. They had the medication leaflet with them, which described side effects similar to Mrs Sears’ symptoms, however the nurses told them that she “couldn’t just stop taking drugs like these” and unfortunately Mrs Sears continued to be given PTU.
By 10th May Mrs Sears had become very unwell and delirious. Mr Sears repeatedly asked for the results of the blood tests to be told repeatedly that they were not ready. In fact the blood tests showed she had suffered liver damage.
Eventually, after 6 days without review Mrs Sears was seen by a medical doctor from the gastroenterology team; they concluded Mrs Sears was in acute liver and renal failure, they stopped the PTU straight away, transferred her to intensive care, then on 11 May 2010 to Kings College Hospital liver unit for specialist treatment.
Despite the best efforts of Kings College Hospital Mrs Sears died on 26 May 2010.
At the end of May 2012 an inquest at North London Coroner’s Court delivered a verdict of death contributed by ‘Neglect’. The Coroner said there was " a very serious failure to provide basic medical care."
Clinical negligence partner Suzanne White, who is representing Mr Sears, said:
“There are few times in a legal career when neglect by a hospital is so clearly demonstrated. The most basic measures of care would have meant that Linda Sears would still be alive today and avoided such a terrible tragedy for the family.”

The Trust has made a full admission of liability.