Hospital’s investigation into cause of daughter’s brain injury ‘failed at every step’

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An Ipswich family claims a hospital ‘abandoned’ their daughter after she was given electric shock treatment following cardiac arrest, and that the investigation into her subsequent brain injury ‘failed at every step’.

Jessica Rudland, aged 24, suffered the cardiac arrest in August 2015, it is believed as a result of giving birth to her son Lewina month earlier. She had been unwell after the birth in Ipswich Hospital, but when later she complained of being short of breath she was taken back to hospital, to accident and emergency. Jessica was diagnosed with having an abnormal heart rhythm and initially prescribed beta blockers. But when her blood pressure dropped her treatment was changed and she was given cardioversion electric shock treatment.

It was following that treatment that her family claim she was abandoned until a doctor arrived to continue her treatment. She subsequently spent 13 days in a coma. But it was the hospital’s own investigation into the incident which has most angered Jessica’s family. They claim that both local and national guidelines for carrying out a ‘serious incident requiring investigation’ were broken.

“The framework encourages family input in serious investigations,” Jessica’s father Chris explains. “But in our daughter’s case the family was excluded from this process, even though her mother Sue was present throughout the treatment and could add valuable insight into the incident.”

However, the family are full of praise for those staff who actually attended Jessica. “We are grateful to the support many wonderful people gave our daughter post-arrest,” says Mr Rudland. “In particular, those doctors and nurses on Claydon ward and the intensive care staff both in Ipswich and Papworth. They propped our daughter up with complex life support. Without them Jessica would not be here.” After treatment, Jessica’s heart has now stabilized. But she lacks co-ordination and suffers slowness of both movement and speech.

The family’s lawyer is medical negligence specialist Carole Watts of Ashtons Legal. “The question of Jessica’s care immediately after the cardioversion has to be investigated, to establish whether the reported delays may have caused her brain injury,” says Carole. “But the hospital’s failure to investigate the issue properly is part of a disturbing pattern of hospitals not following guidelines in these cases, and not treating the investigation with the seriousness it deserves.

“Too often it seems that it’s seen as a form-filling exercise, a means of explaining away poor procedures instead of seeing it as part of patient safety and a way of saving lives in future. The clinical commissioning group has already investigated and accepted the family’s criticisms and pointed out that guidelines were broken. But the failures are also being examined by the General Medical Council, the Nursing Medical Council and the Care Quality Commission, which is the national NHS watchdog. We will wait for those findings before we proceed further, though it seems likely at this stage that a civil action will be pursued against the hospital for their negligence in causing Jessica’s injuries.”


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