Inverclyde Royal doctors blamed for mother’s death

Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL
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A SHERIFF has blamed a catalogue of errors by doctors for the death of a woman at a Greenock hospital.

Judith Laing, 65, died from complications after a hernia operation following a crucial delay in carrying out the surgery.

The mother-of-three was examined by three GPs after falling ill with vomiting at her home in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, in November, 2008.

However, all of them failed to diagnose she was suffering from a strangulated hernia in her bowel despite her complaining of swelling in the groin area.

Mrs Laing, a cleaning supervisor, was admitted to Inverclyde Royal Hospital in Greenock four days later, where medics again failed to spot what was wrong with her. She eventually underwent surgery nine days after taking ill but died seven weeks later from a post-operative infection.

A probe was ordered and a Fatal Accident Inquiry was held into her death at Greenock Sheriff Court last year. Sheriff Derek Hamilton has now criticised the care given to Mrs Laing and said she would likely have survived had her condition been diagnosed sooner.

In a written judgment, he said: “There is no doubt that this is an extremely tragic case. Had Mrs Laing’s symptoms been correctly interpreted at an earlier stage, it is unlikely she would have required such extensive surgery and her general wellbeing would have been better, thereby aiding her recovery.

“Mrs Laing had nine days of her bowel not functioning properly before she underwent surgery. She had dilation of the small loops and therefore required a longer post-operative recovery.

“Clearly, Mrs Laing’s death could have been avoided if her symptoms had been correctly diagnosed earlier.

“It can be of no comfort to Mrs Laing’s family that had different decisions been made, Mrs Laing may well have survived.”

Mrs Laing died on 29 January, 2009, and the inquiry heard that the delay in treating her increased the risk of her contracting the infection which led to her death.

Sheriff Hamilton made a number of criticisms of Dr Graham Currie, the consultant who was on call on the ward where Mrs Laing was first admitted.

Mrs Laing’s GP, Dr Maureen Smith, had telephoned Dr Currie to convey her concerns before her admission to hospital but he failed to read the referral report.

The inquiry also heard he failed to examine the patient over the four days she was on the ward.

Sheriff Hamilton concluded there was “no effective system” on the ward to identify the doctor with overall charge of a patient and called on the hospital to review its procedures.

An NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spokesman said: “We will be reviewing all aspects of this case to ensure lessons have been learned from this tragic death.”