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‘Our mum shouldn’t have died alone’

The late Bridget Pike

The late Bridget Pike

The family of a Derry woman who died after sustaining a fall - and subsequently developing pneumonia - at Altnagelvin Hospital in 2011 said they were robbed of the chance to be at her bedside when she passed away.

The family of a Derry woman who died after sustaining a fall - and subsequently developing pneumonia - at Altnagelvin Hospital in 2011 said they were robbed of the chance to be at her bedside when she passed away.

The family of Bridget Pike, 78, who died in the early hours of February 9, 2011, said yesterday hospital staff kept them “in the dark” about their mother’s illness.

“We didn’t know that the doctor in charge of her care had issued a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Order on our mother. I didn’t know that until after she died.

“We were never consulted - we were never allowed to be part of the decision process. To think that a mother who had five children died alone in hospital... that is hard,” her daughter Elizabeth Cooley said.

Yesterday, at an inquest into Mrs Pike’s death, the consultant in charge of her care apologised for not informing the family about the DNR.

The Inquest into the death of Derry pensioner Bridget Pike heard staff from Altnagelvin Hospital express concerns about staffing levels on the ward where Mrs Pike sustained a fall, which ultimately resulted in her death.

The staff nurse in charge on the night of Mrs Pike’s fall, the Hospital Services Manager and the consultant in Geriatric Care who treated the deceased all said that current staffing levels were “not enough” to cope with anything “out of the ordinary”.

These concerns were echoed by Coroner Jim Kitson who said “staff were under severe pressure” the night Mrs Pike fell, fracturing two ribs.

“I appreciate this is a time of extreme pressure on the public sector,” he said, describing staffing levels on the night of Mrs Pike’s fall as “less than ideal”.

The coroner ruled that the fall “ultimately had fatal and tragic consequences for Mrs Pike”.

The court had heard how the 78 year experienced a number of health difficulties. These had prompted her consultant, Dr. John Corrigan, to direct that she not be resuscitated should she experience cardiac arrest.

While Dr. Corrigan admitted it was his usual practice to keep the family and patient informed of any such decision, this had not been done in the case of Mrs Pike.

In a letter to the Coroner, Dr. Corrigan said that while the decision was “ultimately a medical one” he wished to apologise to the family for not keeping them informed.

Mr Kitson said it had come as a surprise to him to learn that such decisions could be made without consulting family members.

 
 
 

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