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Widow’s renewed anguish five years after husband's death at King's Lynn hospital

A widow has accused Lynn hospital bosses of failing to learn lessons from the death of her husband, almost five years after he died.

Officials at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital say procedures have been changed after failures in the care of Peter Knight were exposed at an inquest into his death last month.

But Lindy O’Dwyer, from Lynn, claims that case has parallels with the death of her husband, Joe, at the hospital in 2014.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn. (7045844)
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn. (7045844)

She has spoken out this week, saying she felt compelled to warn others of what happened to him after reading of Mr Knight’s case.

Mrs O’Dwyer said: “No news is good news, but then this report [Mr Knight’s inquest] in the paper highlighted an error had occurred.

“Lessons have clearly not been learnt. Will there be more cases like that?

“I had the gut feeling after I saw it that I had to warn people.”

Mrs O’Dwyer said her husband had died in a toilet on the Oxborough ward in April 2014 after a nurse failed to turn on the oxygen flow for his cylinder, Mrs O’Dwyer said.

“It’s quite hard to talk about what happened to Joe because you never forget, but you carry on with your life.”

Mrs O’Dwyer said her husband, who was 75 at the time of his death, had suffered with a lung condition since the 1970s, which resulted in him having chest infections over the years.

After being admitted to the Oxborough ward in February 2014, Mrs O’Dwyer said that while she “could not fault the care he received on that occasion”, problems began after he was transferred back there from another ward.

She added: “He was very caring and laid back, and not one to make a fuss.

“Had he done so maybe it would have turned out differently.”

In a statement, QEH medical director Dr Nick Lyons said patient safety is a “top priority within the hospital.”

He said: “We would like to express our apologies and condolences to the families of Mr Knight and Mr O’Dwyer.

“Whenever a patient dies unexpectedly in our care, we carry out an investigation and make improvements.

“Since the tragic death of Mr Knight, we have introduced and are continuing to embed a number of improvements, such as patient transfer checklists, with the aim of preventing this kind of incident from happening again.

“We have increased the delivery of training for patient oxygen management to all nurses which includes practical instruction when they first start work in the hospital followed by annual updates with a specialist respiratory nurse.”

Following Mr Knight’s death, QEH critical care governance nurse Emily Hodges told his inquest that changes have been made such as transfer training days every three months and ensuring that transfer flowcharts are available in every ward.

The inquest also heard nurse educator experts in the relevant areas would provide bedside training at the QEH.

Coroner Jacqueline Lake said that the lack of oxygen “may have or did contribute” to Mr Knight’s death and was “an unintended consequence of an unintended error.”

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