The family of a West Yorkshire woman who sustained a life-threatening bleed on the brain after she fell and knocked her head whilst in hospital have spoken of their continued battle for justice after an internal investigation carried out by the Trust revealed several failings in the care that she received.
On November 2nd, 2018, Mrs Wendy Sockett, now 63, from Pontefract, West Yorkshire, was admitted to Pinderfields Hospital following a fall at home.
Whilst a CT scan confirmed no bleeding or trauma to the head, she was diagnosed with several very serious medical conditions - including sepsis and multi-organ failure – which required urgent treatment and left her very weak.
She was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, where her condition stabilised before she was transferred to the ward.
At this time, the physiotherapy team assessed her and found that because of her condition, she was at risk of a further fall and that it was not safe for her to move about on her own. A note added to the whiteboard above her stated that she should not be moved from her bed.
However, on November 8th, the mother of four was given a walking frame and supported by a healthcare assistant to go to the bathroom. On standing, she became dizzy and collapsed on the floor.
The medical staff helped her back to her bed, but later that day, Mrs Sockett’s condition deteriorated, and she began to suffer from severe headaches and vomiting. Another CT scan on November 9th, 2018, showed a subdural haemorrhage - a life-threatening condition where blood pools under the skull, compressing the brain.
Following the incident, Mrs Sockett’s family instructed medical negligence experts at Thompsons Solicitors to investigate the care that she had received amidst concerns that more should have been done to prevent the fall, which they claim has had a devastating impact on her physically and emotionally.
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust went on to carry out an internal investigation, which concluded in 2019. It revealed several issues, including a failure to share key information about Mrs Sockett’s condition with all staff and a lack of understanding amongst staff of signs of head injury and management of neurological injury.
The Trust has since apologised to the family and admitted that ‘inadequate measures’ were taken to prevent Mrs Sockett’s fall. After the fall, the speed of investigations and observations was inadequate, leading to a delay in diagnosing the injury.
However, despite the Trust admitting that they had failed in the care that she received, which resulted in a fall that has increased her chances of developing devastating conditions, including Alzheimer’s dementia and epilepsy, the Trust does not accept the full impact of her traumatic brain injury.
The family have now spoken of their frustration over the Trust’s response to the matter, which they say is preventing Mrs Sockett from gaining access to medical treatment and care that she needs.
Speaking of their ongoing battle for justice, Mrs Sockett’s husband, Colin, said: “It has been incredibly difficult to watch Wendy’s condition deteriorate since the fall. Our lives have been completely turned upside down as a result.”
Mr Sockett claims he had difficulty getting anyone from the hospital to speak with him following the incident. He said: “It felt as though the medical staff were closing ranks and didn’t want to admit that something had gone wrong, so we were relieved when the serious incident investigation was completed, and we finally had some answers.
“However, despite fully admitting that they could and should have done more to protect her and having apologised that they failed to meet their own standards of care, we are still fighting for the justice and the care that Wendy deserves.”
The family’s lawyer, medical negligence lawyer Helen Cornforth from Thompsons Solicitors, added: “The injuries that Mrs Sockett sustained whilst in hospital are significant and have had a detrimental impact on her quality of life.
“Sadly, she is now at increased risk of both Alzheimer’s dementia and epilepsy as a direct result of the fall, and she suffers from several other symptoms following her brain injury.
“Further to the Trust’s admission of liability regarding the circumstances of the fall, we are now working to secure compensation that will provide her with access to the care, medical treatment, and therapy that she desperately needs.”
In a letter to the family dated March 15th, 2019, the Trust took the opportunity to assure them that the findings of the Serious Incident Investigation had been taken ‘very seriously’ and that it would use the investigation to ‘learn and make necessary changes’ to the care delivered to patients to prevent similar incidents occurring again in the future.
It went on to ‘fully acknowledge and understand how upsetting this situation must have been’ and to offer its ‘sincere apologies’.