Wishaw family believe care home’s botched implant killed sister

THE owners of Kirknowe Nursing Home in Wishaw launched an investigation – after a staff nurse gave a 69-year-old woman an implant for prostate cancer – then failed to record the shocking blunder.

Now BUPA, who own the Stewarton Street home, have admitted the mistake on their part after accidently embedding an implant designed to tackle the male form of cancer in the thigh of 69-year-old Rose Plunkett, who died seven months after the procedure.

However, they claim that the slow-releasing implant, which they chose not to remove, would have had “no negative impact” on the frail pensioner’s health, despite the family of Mrs Plunkett – who died aged 70 – being convinced it is what sent her into a downward spiral.

The family are now wanting to use their own horrific first-hand experience to warn others about the levels of care they deem “shocking” at one of the town’s biggest care homes.

Speaking exclusively to the Wishaw Press, Rose’s family told of their living nightmare in the seven months after the former Wishaw nurse’s botched procedure at Kirknowe.

One sister, who chose to remain anonymous, said: “Rose died on March 1 after being in Kirknowe for nine years with dementia. On August 7 last year, two qualified nurses put an implant into her right thigh which was meant for a man with prostate cancer. None of us know how they made such a huge mistake, but they did.

“We were assured by many people – doctors, GPs and nurses – that this implant – which would be slow-releasing over three months – would cause her no harm and couldn’t be taken out because she was too frail.

“However, from August 26 my sister started being unwell. By September 1 she’d taken a stroke down her right-hand side and had started taking shaking fits. She was constantly bruising herself falling out of her bed at night and subsequently died on March 1 this year after vomiting into her lungs in the nursing home and dying of aspiration pneumonia. As far as we’re concerned, this was all caused by the implant.”

Rose received an injection for her dementia every fortnight in Kirknowe’s Hazelbank specialist unit, which houses the home’s residents who suffer from dementia. The nurse responsible for the bungle never documented the procedure but a more senior member of staff did. Once the mistake came to light, Rose’s family were amazed at how such a medical error could have been made.

“How they could ever make a mistake like this is unbelievable – an implant is something completely different,” they said.

“We were unhappy with how Kirknowe dealt with everything. We, Rose’s family, saw her deteriorating from as soon as she got the implant, dying within seven months.

“It’s very easy for the medical staff to turn round and tell us her rapid decline was because of her dementia. But as far as we’re concerned it was the implant that brought it on. She was a poor, poor soul in the last six months of her life. She couldn’t walk, she couldn’t talk, she wasn’t opening her eyes and she had to be spoon-fed.

“The deterioration was terrible. She had a stroke in September and no-one had noticed. It was obvious looking at the drooping on the right-hand side of her face, but nobody had picked up on it.

“They then brought in a doctor who said she hadn’t had a stroke. She was taken to hospital in December where she had a scan and a consultant told us that Rose had suffered a stroke a few weeks earlier.

“With the whole thing, it was just like the home were trying to keep it hush-hush. They didn’t want anyone to know. But I kept complaining until I got a letter from BUPA saying they were investigating.”

Since then, Rose’s distraught family have received correspondence from both BUPA and Kirknowe admitting their mistake and offering their apologies.

Kenny Valentine, BUPA care services director for Scotland, told the Wishaw Press: “As soon as it became clear that one of our nurses administered the wrong medication to the late Mrs Plunkett in August last year, all the appropriate procedures were followed and she was immediately suspended from administering medication.

“Following consultation with the GP and a number of medical professionals, it was advised that the drug administered would not have a negative impact on Mrs Plunkett’s health. However, this incident should not have happened and we apologised to Mrs Plunkett and her family at the time for the nurse’s mistake.

“The nurse no longer works at the care home.”

A BUPA spokesperson added: “The GP and other health professionals were consulted and it was deemed in the best interests of Mrs Plunkett to leave the implant in – it was going to do no damage to her health and the distress it would have caused her to have it removed was not justifiable.

“We understand Mrs Plunkett died in hospital in March 2012 of unrelated causes. There is no evidence to suggest that the medication error had a role in her death.”