"Why did my Dad die at Whiston Hospital?"

About: Whiston Hospital / General surgery

(as a relative),

A number of family members expressed concerns to me about how and why my dad died at Whiston Hospital and questioned why the cause of his death was not dealt with earlier – it was something I too had wondered about, and even his GP expressed surprise about the eventual/apparent cause of his death.

He was very defensive of his consultant whenever I questioned him about his apparent lack of treatment. However, following his death I was surprised to find he had kept a diary of his appointments - and from reading this I can now see his own frustration at the lack of diagnosis. He had even started writing a letter of complaint to his specialist about his lack of treatment after being discharged from Whiston following his first stay.

One of my primary concerns following his death was why it took an inordinate amount of time to diagnose and treat the apparent cause of his jaundice – this included three periods in the hospital, and only after he had lost two to three stones in weight and was so weak he could not resist or fight the fatal infections (potentially caused by the stent or its insertion) – and being literally on his death-bed, was he and our family informed a cancer had been identified.

During each of his stays at Whiston Hospital, his condition deteriorated whilst he was awaiting treatment. I still do not understand why identification and treatment of his condition was not treated with increased priority, bearing in mind the hospital were aware of the pattern of deterioration and infection (sepsis) which occurred each time he was admitted, nor do I understand why he was not prescribed broad-spectrum antibiotics before invasive procedures were carried out.

NOTHING CAN BRING HIM BACK NOW but I remain concerned about the way he was treated. I would like to know why it took so many ERCPs, ultrasounds and biopsies to identify a cancer. My father recovered from his first stay at Whiston Hospital and the day after he returned home his GP diagnosed him as suffering from impetigo and anemia – why wasn’t this diagnosed and treated in the hospital?

In the five days before he died he ate a small ice cream and two small jelly’s - and had a few sips of water coupled with a saline drip. I asked why he wasn’t being given nutritional support and was informed “his sugar and calorific levels are being monitored he won’t starve”. My father was diabetic, clearly deteriorating and could not eat and I still do not understand why he wasn’t given nutritional support.

Dad’s ‘cancer’ was diagnosed a few days before his death. The doctor explained it was very small, this was why it had not been not been detected in the ultra sound, CT scans or ERCP examinations. A day later without further examination a second doctor described it as “florid and obviously aggressive”.

I am concerned that Whiston Hospital did not anticipate the likelihood of an infection or respond quickly enough when it occurred. My fathers decline was due to avoidable infections rather than due to the cancer but I suspect cancer was seen to be a more convenient diagnosis and acceptable reason for his death.

Would quick decisive diagnosis and treatment have saved my dad’s life?

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