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Deaf man treated as a dementia patient

Posted in: Medical Negligence Wrongful & Accidental Death 

Nurses at Abergavenny’s Nevill Hall Hosptial treated an 80-year-old man as a dementia patient because no one had noted that he was severely deaf.  A health watchdog also found that staff at the hospital decided not to inform Mr W that he had developed cancer, and fitted him with a catheter despite not being incontinent.  A deaf charity said that this is a common problem; despite NHS guidelines ensuring top-quality care for deaf and blind patients.

The man, referred to as Mr W as family have chosen to remain anonymous, was first admitted to the hospital in September 2011 with a suspected chest infection, he then returned a month later when he subsequently died.  His widow said that she had frequently informed staff about her husband’s deafness, but was ignored.  She complained that her husband’s care had been severely compromised by this. Mrs W also said that she had not been informed about her husband’s cancer diagnosis while he was in hospital, only finding out from her GP after his death.

Multiple failings

Acting Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Prof Margaret Griffiths, found that the health board had failed in numerous areas.  They had failed to: record a significant clinical decision with Mr W concerning scan results; follow relevant guidance on record-keeping; carry out a risk assessment concerning the risk of falling; consult Mr W about the insertion of a catheter, and follow national guidance on effective discharge planning.

Aneurin Bevan Health Board has apologised to the family of Mr W, with a spokesperson saying: “We have been setting up specific training for staff to improve their communication skills when caring for patients who are deaf, or may have difficulty with their hearing.

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