West Suffolk Hospital sued by Jane Winn's family

  • Published
Image source, Winn family
Image caption,
Karen Jane Winn had been the sole carer of her husband, Brian, an amputee

The family of a woman who had a cardiac arrest following a lack of life-saving medication is suing the hospital where she died.

Karen Jane Winn, 61, of Northwold, near Thetford, Norfolk, was diagnosed with a serious blood disorder in April 2019. She died three days later.

Her widower, Brian, said West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds did not provide a "basic level of care".

The hospital said it "fell short of the standards" patients expected.

At an inquest in 2020, a coroner concluded the "non-administration" of the drug "amounts to neglect".

Mrs Winn, who was known as Jane, was admitted to the hospital on 12 April on the advice of her GP after complaining of being "very unwell".

A consultant diagnosed her with haemolytic anaemia, which carries a risk of deep vein thrombosis, potentially leading to a pulmonary embolism.

An inquest held in October 2020 heard she should have been placed on medication to prevent blood clots as soon as blood test results were available on 12 April.

It was not administered until an hour before Mrs Winn died, when she received a single dose which was not sufficient to break up any blood clots that had already formed.

'Amounts to neglect'

It was also told an automated warning system for patients at risk of blood clots, which was embedded in her electronic case record, was manually overridden 58 times.

She was transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU) and died shortly after, on 15 April.

Image source, West Suffolk Hospital
Image caption,
Mr Winn said more frequent monitoring by West Suffolk Hospital "would no doubt have presented a different outcome"

A post-mortem examination confirmed widespread blockages in the arteries in her lungs, and "significant" blood clots in the veins in her upper legs.

In a prevention of future deaths report, Suffolk coroner Nigel Parsley said the "non-administration" of medication contributed to Mrs Winn's death.

"This medication had been earlier identified as being essential for her treatment and the non-administration of this essential medication amounts to neglect," he added.

In a statement released via his solicitor, Mr Winn said it was "obvious" that his wife needed to be admitted to ICU, where more frequent monitoring "would no doubt have presented a different outcome".

"Her deterioration; dark blue lips, nose and other discolouration didn't just suddenly appear," he added.

"The failure to provide a basic level of care, took away my sons' mother, and my best friend of almost 50 years together."

Solicitor Craig Knightley, of Tees Law, said: "The coroner's finding of neglect acknowledges the total failure to give Jane basic medical treatment that would ultimately have increased her chances of survival."

Interim chief executive at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Craig Black, said the trust "fully accept that on this occasion we fell short of the standards our patients and families rightly expect and that we strive for".

He added that following Mrs Winn death and the trust's investigation "we have changed and strengthened our procedures and safeguards, and implemented the coroner's findings in detail to ensure all lessons have been learned and to prevent this from happening again".

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