Fury at hospital over OAP's death

TWO sisters, who claim their 80-year-old mother died from MRSA after being left to lie on blood-soaked pillows, today spoke of their fury at Ipswich Hospital.

meyrem.hussein@eveningstar.co.uk >

TWO sisters, who claim their 80-year-old mother died from MRSA after being left to lie on blood-soaked pillows, today spoke of their fury at Ipswich Hospital.

Grace Bunn, of Packard Avenue, Ipswich, died at the hospital in August 2004 after her temporary pacemaker became infected with MRSA.

An inquest on Monday found that Mrs Bunn died from complications following necessary medical treatment.

Her daughters told the inquest that they had believed nurses failed to meet acceptable hygiene levels or adequately respond to their fears of infection.

Gillian Bunn, of Kent, and her Kesgrave-based sister, who did not want to be named, said they arrived at the hospital one day to find their mother on three blood-soaked pillows. They said when they told a nurse they were simply covered with a clean cloth. They also accused nurses of not wearing gloves in what medical experts say should have been sterile dressing changes.

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In documentary evidence read out at Mrs Bunn's inquest at Endeavour House in Ipswich, the family described the day she died.

They said: “We found her in a poor way.

“We noticed a trickle of blood on her skin where the pacemaker had been fitted and three pillows were saturated with blood.

“(Later) when a doctor examined my mother there appeared to be an instant look of horror.

“According to a relative, Dr Liam Ring shouted 'you told me it was just a chesty cough. This is something completely different.'

“We feel concerned about hygiene processes at the hospital. Not only was the pacemaker wire contaminated but nurses frequently didn't protect their hands with gloves when touching her wound and dressing.”

Ms Bunn's evidence for another day read: “Her dressing was messy with blood and my mother and I told several nurses about the dressing and that she felt uncomfortable. A number of nurses touched the area without gloves.”

Ms Bunn also told the inquest that the family had arranged to see Dr Reshma Patelon August 11 to express concerns about symptoms that could have heralded infection.

She said: "We felt her situation was deteriorating and the nurses weren't taking action. We expressed concern that she was getting confused, that there was redness on her chest and that she was becoming flushed. We also expressed our concerns about the hallucinations."

After the inquest Ms Bunn, who is now taking legal advice, told The Evening Star: “There should be a complete overhaul of the hygiene facilities and everything should be documented. How would you feel if she was your mother? Where did she get MRSA from?

“We don't know if she would still be here, had they responded sooner or if there were cleaner procedures.

“It won't help my mother, because she has gone, but this may help other people. If people don't think things are being done properly - speak up.”

GRACE Bunn was admitted to hospital on August 5, 2004, after a heart attack, her inquest heard.

The OAP's heart rate failed to improve and on August 8 a temporary pacemaker was fitted to save her life.

The family said in the following days she showed signs of confusion and was on occasions incoherent. Doctors arranged a transfer to Cambridgeshire's Papworth Hospital for intensive treatment but her condition deteriorated and the transfer was cancelled.

The family said her chest was burning and that she began hallucinating. Hospital records from August 11 show the wound area was recognised as being “red and sore” but it was not safe to remove the wire as Mrs Bunn's heart was relying on it.

The inquest heard how nurses blamed the soreness on the dressing's adhesive but no antibiotic treatment was given until August 12.

The next day, August 13, blood test results showed the MRSA infection was present so the pacemaker wire was removed.

Although Mrs Bunn responded well initially, she died the following day.

A post mortem said the most likely root of infection was the pacemaker wire which goes into bloodstream. The tip of it had MRSA on it and she later aspirated, accidentally drawing material from the stomach into the lungs.

Doctor Norman Irvine, a consultant cardiologist, told the inquest how nurses touching Mrs Bunn's wound and dressing should have been wearing gloves.

He said: “There is a risk of infection when a wire is first inserted but it grows, and after five days or so it increases day-by-day. Germs can track from the outside in.

“It's difficult to have a dressing which stays stuck. As the patient moves it tends to peel off and it's difficult to keep it on.

“Touching it should be done in a sterile environment, with gloves.”

Statements from members of the nursing staff were read out at the inquest.

Andrea Peters said: "I adhered to trust policies re: asepsis and hand washing."

A second nurse said: "When undertaking dressings, I follow a strict aseptic technique including hand washing and gloves". A third said: "Normal procedures are to observe aseptic techniques, including hand washing."

The inquest heard how the night before the family found Mrs Bunn on bloodied pillows, the dressing had in fact been changed three times. The inquest heard how bleeding was to be expected as medication was thinning Mrs Bunn's blood.

Greater Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean recorded a verdict of complications following necessary medical treatment.