A SCOTTISH family have slammed health bosses after their 73-year-old
mother died after falling in a dark hospital toilet.
Mary McLaughlin was admitted to Western General Hospital, Edinburgh
with pneumonia in March.
The 73-year-old broke her leg after falling unsupervised in a
pitch-black hospital toilet – which left with a 50cm scar from her
knee to her thigh.
NHS Lothian chiefs have now apologised to the family, who say they
were initially lied to about how she was injured.
After her fall on March 14, Mrs McLaughlin had to be carried in agony
from the bathroom on a sheet by five members of staff because they
could not access a stretcher.
The health board initially insisted the frail patient – who had been
suffering hallucinations – had fallen out of bed.
However, it was later forced to admit Mrs McLaughlin had been found,
screaming in agony, in the toilet.
Doctors inserted a metal plate inside the leg, leaving her in
excruitating pain – six days after the accident.
Mrs McLaughlin’s family claimed, following the accident – she received
substandard care which led to her death within months.
NHS Lothian chiefs today publicly apologised to the family and
said lessons would be learned from the episode.
Daughter Mary Ford, 50, said: “It’s an absolute disgrace, I’m not
happy and I want know exactly what happened to my mother.
“The NHS has covered up what really happened, they’ve apologised but
that’s not going to bring my mother back.
“We’re just a normal working class family, we can’t afford a big fancy
lawyer to force them to tell us the truth.
“I sent off the complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
yesterday and we’re hoping this will force them to tell the truth
about what happened.
“They claimed she had fallen out of the bed and that’s how she broke
her leg, but we didn’t believe it so we kept asking and eventually
they came clean.
“They admitted a nurse had heard her screams and run to help. She had
fallen in such a way that the nurse was unable to open the door.
“So she hit the alarm button and staff members came and carried her on
a bed sheet because she was unable to walk because of her broken leg.
“We are convinced that if it wasn’t for her broken leg, she would
still be here today.
“They say the cause of death was heart disease but we think the break
and all of the pressure on her body for all those weeks killed her.”
After breaking her leg on March 14, Mrs McLaughlin was transferred to
the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
An operation was scheduled but cancelled on three occasions, before
finally going ahead six days after the accident.
She was transferred to a high-dependency ward – to the shock of her
family- who then learned a do not resuscitate order had been placed on
After being transferred to the Royal Victoria Building for a
fortnight’s rehabilitation, she was sent home on 20 March with a care
package, but remained in excruciating pain.
After calling NHS 24, a doctor was sent out, who the family said told
them Mrs McLaughlin had been discharged far too early and advised them
to go back to the Royal Infirmary.
But after spending five hours in A&E, a doctor simply sent her home
again, after increasing her carer visits from two to four per day.
On May 6, the family called the NHS 24 after her legs turned blue.
An emergency ambulance was sent and she was rushed back to the Royal
Infirmary, but she passed away in the early hours of May 8.
Dr David Farquharson, NHS Lothian’s medical director, said: “The care
and treatment described by Mrs McLaughlin’s family is not of the
standard we aim to deliver.
“I would like to apologise for this and pass on my condolences to the
family for their loss.
“I appreciate that this has been an extremely difficult and
distressing time for the family and that this has not been helped by
out clinical teams not providing accurate and consistent information.”
In May a survey revealed that 13,000 falls have been recorded as
“adverse events” by NHS Lothian.