'Life and death mix-up' Family's grief after former nurse died in A&E after staff read wrong 'Do Not Resuscitate' order

19 April 2024, 14:22 | Updated: 19 April 2024, 14:30

Patricia Dawson died after repeated mistakes in A&E
Patricia Dawson died after repeated mistakes in A&E, an inquest found. Picture: Handout

By Flaminia Luck

The family of a woman from Lancashire who died when hospital staff read the WRONG patient’s “do not resuscitate“ order say they fear the same mistake happening again.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Retired nurse, Patricia Dawson, died at Royal Blackburn hospital last September - an inquest into her death highlighted a series of failings in her care at A&E.

The 73-year-old was fit and healthy, she’d been suffering with sickness and diarrhoea for a few days when she was taken to hospital with a suspected abdominal blockage.

When Mrs Dawson collapsed, staff stopped attempts to resuscitate her following a look at 'her' notes.

Tragically, a mix up meant staff were reading a DNR that belonged to a 91-year-old man.

Patricia Dawson
Patricia with her grandson Harry. Picture: Handout

By the time staff realised their mistake, it was too late, and Patricia had died.

Patricia’s son, John, had accompanied her to hospital, he says at no point did staff double check his mum’s name, gender or patient number. Soon after her death, a senior nurse told him about what had happened, he says it floored him:

“I was in a state of shock, I don’t think I said very much. You think you’d be absolutely livid; I was just stunned by it. How can you mix something up that means life and death and read the wrong person’s records?”.

When Mrs Dawson arrived at Royal Blackburn Hospital on 19th of September, she was greeted by an A&E department in chaos.

That afternoon it had been declared as over-capacity and over-stretched.

More than ninety patients were waiting to be seen. John describes seeing corridors filled with beds, nurses writing patients names on paper towels and confusion about what patients were where.

Mrs Dawson’s family say the pressure staff were under that night undoubtedly led to the series of failings that caused her death.

Read more: Nicola Sturgeon breaks silence after husband Peter Murrell charged in SNP finance probe

Patricia Dawson
Her son said patients weren't seen quickly enough. Picture: Handout

John said: “There were too many patients and not enough staff.

“Patients don’t get seen quickly enough and mistakes happen when people are rushing and not focussing on what they’re doing, but you think even if the wrong notes had been handed over that there’d be a double check”.

“Whatever time you go into A&E, it’s overcapacity, you’ve got an eight hour wait at least. It isn’t a surprise that records are going missing or not being kept properly. We aren’t calling for people to lose their jobs, I do feel for the staff, everyone can see how much pressure they’re under, they aren’t given the backup and things need to change to prevent anything like this happening again”.

“My Mum served the NHS for thirty years and when it was her turn to get something back, she was failed by them”.

At an inquest in Accrington, heard she would have probably survived if medics had not checked the wrong documents.

The coroner ruled neglect and flagged several areas of ‘sub-standard care’ Pat had received, including a failure to record any of the tests carried in the hospital, not following the sepsis and abdominal pathways, and checking the wrong patient’s notes.

Read more: Women urged to contact police over 'misogynistic' Manchester nightlife videos as clips surface from other cities

Patricia with her grandson
Patricia with her grandson. Picture: Handout

'Tragic incident'

In a statement Executive Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive at East Lancashire Hospitals, Jawad Husain, said the Trust had fully cooperated with and accepted the verdict of the coroner.

"This is a tragic incident that should never have happened and for that we are truly sorry.

"We are grateful that the coroner recognised the difficult circumstances within our Emergency Department, as our team work so hard to provide care for all our patients.

“We know there is nothing we can say to lessen the pain felt by Mrs Dawson's family.

"The Trust has reviewed all the learning from this case, a number of improvements have been identified which have either already been implemented or in the final stages of implementation.”

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Eamonn Holmes hints split was because Ruth Langsford 'wouldn't let him buy or display childhood toys'

Eamonn Holmes hints at reason behind Ruth Langsford split was she 'didn't want to move to Northern Ireland'

Renowned Sherpa mountain guide Kami Rita, left, returning from Mount Everest after his record 30th successful ascent, arrives at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Friday

Record-holding Sherpa guide concerned about rubbish on Everest’s higher camps

Thailand Thaksin

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra indicted for royal defamation

Balloons with rubbish believed to have been sent by North Korea hang on electric wires as South Korean army soldiers stand guard in Muju, South Korea

North Korea flies balloons carrying rubbish over the South

The watch firm where Oliver White had been working before he became a victim in a £2.8 raid has said he 'shouldn't have been left alone'.

Watch firm at centre of ‘£2.8m raid’ says seller who took own life ‘should never have been alone’ but is ‘nobody’s fault’

People queue to cast their votes at a polling station during general elections, in Cape Town, South Africa

South Africans vote in election seen as country’s most important in 30 years

Former pilots and aircrew are suing the MoD after being exposed to toxic fumes.

Former RAF pilots and aircrew ‘dying from cancer’ launch legal action against MoD over ‘exposure to toxic fumes’

The boy was attacked in Brazil Street, Hull

Boy, five, rushed to hospital with head injuries after being mauled by 'XL Bully'

Diane Abbott has said she has been blocked from standing as an MP at the election

Diane Abbott barred by Labour from standing for the party at the general election

General Election LIVE: Rishi Sunak vows boost to apprenticeships, Labour targets NHS backlog as campaigns ramp up

General Election LIVE: Rishi Sunak vows boost to apprenticeships, Labour targets NHS backlog as campaigns ramp up

Royal Mail owners have agreed to £3.57bn takeover offer from Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky.

The Czech is in the Post: Royal Mail accepts £3.5billion takeover bid from Czech billionaire

Tributes have been paid to watch seller Oliver White who was found dead after a raid

Watch dealer took his own life due to ‘distress’ of £2.8m raid at west London store, say devastated family

Police have arrested 40 people following the demonstration on Tuesday.

Three officers injured and 40 people arrested after police clash with pro-Palestine protesters in Westminster

APTOPIX Papua New Guinea Landslide

Mass evacuations in Papua New Guinea amid fears of further landslides

APTOPIX Israel Palestinians

Algeria proposes UN resolution demanding Israel halt offensive in Rafah

Venezuela Election

Venezuela revoke EU invitation to observe nation’s presidential election in July