A woman with a broken leg suffocated and died when she got her head stuck between the bars on her bed at Stafford Hospital after her cries for help were ignored by staff, a tribunal was told.
Ann King, a nurse at the hospital, told an auxillary ‘sit down, she’s fine’, despite the woman, referred to as Patient A at the tribunal, pleading ‘help me’.
By the time she was checked on, the woman’s face had turned purple and she could not be resuscitated, the hearing was told. The nurse also failed to recognise that another patient, who subsequently died, was diabetic, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) heard.
King and ward manager Jeannette Coulson made a number of blunders while working in the trauma and orthopaedics ward between 2005 and 2010, Rebecca Wood, for the NMC said. The woman who died in the railings had been admitted to the ward with a broken leg in 2005.
The patient was heard screaming ‘help me, help me’ but a worker who tried to go to her was repeatedly told to sit down by nurse King, it was alleged. Ten minutes later the woman became silent and the worker went to check on her. ‘When he entered the room he found Patient A at the bottom of her bed with her head wedged in between the bars,’ Miss Wood said.
Her head was swollen and purple and she was not moving. She could not be resuscitated. As the auxiliary worker left the patient’s room, he was pushed up against the wall by another nurse, Karen Salt, who said words to the effect of ‘keep your mouth shut,’ it was claimed. Both nurses are also accused of failing to recognise that another patient who died under their care, Gillian Astbury, was diabetic.
The 66-year-old Hednesford woman who had suffered a stroke was admitted to A&E in 2007. A doctor stated her blood sugar levels should be checked hourly. King and Coulson deny being told Mrs Astbury was diabetic, despite it appearing in her notes.
King denies all allegations against her, while Coulson admits using inappropriate language and replacing a sign that stated what times relatives could speak to staff after it had been taken down. She also admits refusing to accept a patient on the ward after surgery and swearing at a worker.
Neither of the nurses is attending the London hearing.