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Cancer patient’s family ‘handled insensitively’
HOSPITAL bosses have pledged to learn lessons after the family of a 93-year-old was told “insensitively” that she had a tumour and could go home.
They said the woman’s five weeks at Oxford’s Churchill Hospital in 2013 witnessed a number of serious failings.
The anonymous report was made public with the family’s consent so hospital chiefs can address the issues raised.
The woman went to A&E after a fall and was admitted to the hospital due to bleeding on a bladder tumour. An operation was planned for April 12.
Her family said they were told by three nurses if they came at 7pm that day that a doctor would discuss the results.
In a report released by the NHS, they said: “During that evening, we kept being told someone would come soon. At 10.30pm (we had not eaten and no food was available), we were informed the surgeon had gone home.
“The nurse had scribbled notes from the operation but was unable to tell us what they said as we had to be told by a doctor.
“She refused to let us see the notes unless there was consent from the legal office at the John Radcliffe, despite us having Power of Attorney.”
This left them “very angry.”
They said the house officer eventually agreed to phone them during the night or to possibly be available if they waited another hour.
They said: “We saw him very briefly around 11.30pm. He said: ‘Huge tumour, unable to remove. She can go home tomorrow’.”
They said the discharge was “opaque and confused” and it was “unclear who was responsible.”
They said that in the absence of any action or advice they paid for a nursing home. Their relative died on June 18.
The family said: “The ward staff seemed only interested in my mother’s bladder, not the whole person and most appeared to lose interest in her once the operation was over.”
They were also “extremely concerned” that a note saying “resuscitation at all costs” was put on her records when she had requested in a living will for this to say “do not attempt to resuscitate”.
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust urology matron Jenny Hayes said there was “an unsatisfactory relationship with the patient’s family as a result of insensitive communication”.
She said the “inadequate visibility” of the ward sister and “lack of leadership roles” in her absence damaged continuity of care.
Staff did not know about the living will, she added.
Acting chief nurse Liz Wright said: “We have apologised to the family in this case. This story will help facilitate improvements in care, work with families, strengthen team leadership, and facilitate learning through team discussion.”
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