AN elderly woman died after being left without proper care for two weeks on a hospital unit where patients were at risk for months, an inquest heard.
Betty Marshall, 85, was admitted to Monument House, a Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust unit in Pontefract, to recover from surgery for a hip fracture in December 2010.
An inquest heard Mrs Marshall, of Batley Road, Kirkhamgate, was first admitted to F-ward at Pinderfields Hospital, where she responded well to the surgery.
But after being sent to Monument House on December 29, she developed an infection in her surgical wound, a pressure sore, dehydration and was so ill she could not open her mouth.
Assistant deputy coroner Mary Burke said: “There was a 15-day period when no care was provided.”
She was readmitted to F-ward on January 14, where staff were “horrified” at her condition. Mrs Marshall died on January 22, 2011.
The hearing was told that Monument House was short-staffed and struggling to cope with outbreaks of norovirus.
One staff member was crying down the phone saying they could not cope. Another said the unit was an “absolute nightmare”.
Miss Burke said: “There was a period of several months when patients were at risk.”
Staff nurse Geraldine Canedo said Mrs Marshall was frail and her night dress was soaked with liquid from the open wound when readmitted to F-ward.
She said: “She was really, really poorly. I should say, to be honest, I didn’t think she would make the next day.”
The inquest heard that the infected wound would have developed, along with Mrs Marshall’s other symptoms, over a number of days.
Concerns were raised about Mrs Marshall’s care at Monument House and a safeguarding meeting was held 10 days after her death.
This concluded that Mrs Marshall, “may have just given up the will to live.”
But Miss Burke said: “She may have given up the will to live towards the end because she wasn’t getting the right level of nursing care and assistance and her condition was deteriorated all the time.”
A review of case notes was also held, but not until 15 months later.
Miss Burke added: “The real issue was how did she get to that stage, from being on the road to recovery following an operation to the stage she reached on January 14.”
The hearing continues.