Mistakes cause 30 deaths at Sunderland hospital

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SUNDERLAND Royal Hospital has been named among the worst hospitals in the country for avoidable patient deaths.

Figures from the National Reporting and Learning System show there were 30 people who died at the hospital because of errors last year.

Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, in London, tops the list, with a total of 66 dying because of staff mistakes.

Hospital bosses today said data could be “very misleading” and highlighted its “first class record of patient care”.

The Echo reported earlier this year how pensioner John Matthew Lowden died at the royal after doctors failed to spot an internal bleed.

Medics initially thought that the 80-year-old was suffering from a chest infection because he was short of breath, or a blood clot when he was admitted on Christmas Eve last year.

But a scan did not show the infection and he was given the blood-thinning medication warfarin before being discharged only to be readmitted on December 27.

The bleed - which was caused by a gastric intestinal ulcer - was eventually diagnosed and Mr Lowden was given a blood transfusion but died the next day.

And in July mum Elizabeth Waldron died at the hospital after she was incorrectly given huge amounts of oxygen by a nurse who was “not trained” in the procedure.

Mrs Waldron, 77, died less than two hours after being administered uncontrolled levels of the gas when she fell seriously ill on Ward E51.

A coroner recorded a narrative verdict stating that Mrs Waldron, of Peterlee, died of natural causes contributed by oxygen levels not appropriately maintained and managed, and the absence of a more timely medical review.

Bosses at Sunderland Royal apologised for both errors.

Responding to the latest figures, a spokesman for City Hospitals Sunderland said: “Data like this can be very misleading.

“As the (independent healthcare charity) King’s Fund acknowledges, it is very difficult to compare hospitals of different sizes which serve different types of population.

“Statistics cannot entirely overcome the complexities of adjusting for the many factors - some unrelated to the quality of care - that contribute to deaths in hospital.

“City Hospitals Sunderland has a first class record of patient care and safety and a gold standard reputation within the NHS.

“Although we are treating more patients than ever before, and a growing elderly population with complex conditions, there has never been such focus on transparency, the patient, the quality and nature of their care, and the success of the vast majority of modern treatments.

“By the very nature of healthcare, mistakes are made, and we have a rigorous system of learning from these, and feeding the experience back into our service so our future performance develops and improves constantly.”