NHS Glasgow to apologise for staff failure

The incident happened at Southern General Hospital. Picture: John Devlin
The incident happened at Southern General Hospital. Picture: John Devlin
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A PATIENT with a spinal problem was forced to wait for a vital scan after doctors failed to recognise the seriousness of her condition, a report has found.

The woman - referred to as Mrs C - complained that staff at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow failed to assess her symptoms as requiring an urgent MRI scan. This complaint was upheld by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO).

The patient claimed the delay had resulted in her being left with permanent nerve damage, muscle-wastage and bladder problems.

She had woken up one Saturday in July 2012 with numbness in her leg, foot and buttock, along with lower back pain.

Mrs C went to A&E at Monklands Hospital in Airdrie, but as MRI scans were not available there at weekends, specialist advice was sought from the Southern General.

It was decided after discussions that a scan could wait until Monday and then she was diagnosed with a prolapsed disc, requiring urgent surgery the following day.

The ombudsman’s adviser said he was in “no doubt” that the majority of neurosurgeons would have recommended that Mrs C be urgently scanned on the Saturday.

The report also criticised the lack of records around the discussions that took place between the two hospitals about the patient’s care.

Ombudsman Jim Martin said NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde should apologise for the failings identified and take steps to put in appropriate guidance on MRI scanning and spinal surgery referrals.

“Unfortunately, Mrs C continues to suffer ongoing problems and I appreciate how distressing this must be for her,” he said.

“However, my adviser said that it is impossible to say with any certainty that the outcome for Mrs C would have been better if the surgery had been carried out earlier.”

In a statement, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “We have received the ombudsman report and fully accept the recommendations.

“Following this case we have already reinforced with neurosurgery staff the need for accurate record keeping and are working to introduce an electronic record keeping system by the end of 2014.

“We are also working with other NHS boards to implement appropriate protocols and guidance for spinal surgery referrals.

“We will be writing to the patient offering our apologies for any failures with their treatment.”