Belfast City Hospital Committed ‘Gross Error’

The treatment of a 63-year-old County Fermanagh woman who died in Belfast City Hospital has been criticised by the Northern Ireland Ombudsman.

Tom Frawley criticised the hospital in his report into the death of the woman, identified only as Mrs M.

She was extremely ill when she was transferred from the Erne Hospital in December 2001, but was allowed to discharge herself two days later.

He said this was a “gross error of judgement”.

Mr Frawley said he regarded it as “serious maladministration” in her treatment.

The woman’s son took her back to Accident and Emergency five days later because she was in severe pain and her left leg was extremely swollen.

She was not admitted despite being exceptionally weak and not fit to travel home, said the ombudsman.

The following day she was taken back to the hospital, seen by the same doctor and admitted.

Her condition was monitored for several days by medical staff concerned about deep vein thrombosis in the woman’s left leg – before a procedure was carried out after five days.

The woman died 48 hours later from suspected pulmonary embolism.

Mr Frawley said the decision not to admit Mrs M to BCH on 15 December 2001 “was a gross error of judgement which I regarded as serious maladministration”.

“The failure of the attending doctor to make proper records compounded the level of maladministration,” he added.

The fact that she was then admitted the following day confirmed his view the earlier decision was manifestly wrong and “suggestive of professional incompetence.”

The ombudsman recommended the chief executive of the hospital trust issue a detailed letter of apology and produce an evaluation report on the concerns and criticisms identified.