Signs missed before girl’s tragic death

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A HOSPITAL failed to notice the quick deterioration of a critically-ill disabled girl and made a number of other failings before her death, an inquest was told.

Rachel Turnedge, who suffered from learning difficulties, curvature of the spine and was fed through a tube in her abdomen, died in Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary of pneumonia on April 30 last year, the day of her 29th birthday.

Rachel, who lived in the Rossmere area of Hartlepool, was admitted to the University Hospital of Hartlepool suffering with abdomen pains and lung problems but was transferred to Newcastle shortly after.

There, despite a CT scan which showed Rachel was suffering with a form of pneumonia, she was sent to a ward specialising in abdomen issues.

An inquest at Newcastle Civic Centre heard that Rachel’s mum, Pam Turnedge, pleaded with medics to transfer her to another ward but nothing was done.

Her records, where nurses regularly check blood pressure, heart and respiratory rate and body temperature, were not properly kept and less than two days after being admitted into the RVI, Rachel went into cardiac arrest and sadly passed away.

A serious case review ordered by Newcastle Hospital Trust after Rachel’s death showed a number of shortcomings including below optimum staffing level on Rachel’s ward and blood tests not being carried out when she was admitted the following morning.

The inquest also heard how, against strict rules, a student nurse was allowed to examine Rachel on her own.

Distraught mum Pam said she could see how seriously ill her daughter was and begged with nurses to transfer her to another ward.

Pam, who said she didn’t leave Rachel’s side during her time in hospital, told the Mail: “Rachel had an amazing smile and everyone who knew her has been touched and devastated by her loss.

“But our memories have been marred by the agony, everytime we close our eyes it’s there.”

She added: “There were lots of recommendations put forward but they should be in place at the hospital anyway.

“There are still questions unanswered and hopefully we will get those answers from the trust.”

Some nurses on the ward have since been disciplined and action has been taken to rectify problems at the hospital.

Coroner David Mitford returned a narrative verdict and said the case “identifies shortcomings”.

A Newcastle Hospital Trust spokesman said: “In advance of the inquest hearing, the trust carried out a prompt and intensive investigation.

“Significant steps had been taken to deal with shortcomings, which had been identified where care given fell below the highest standards, which the trust requires.

“Condolences are extended to Rachel’s family.”