Updated: Jul 17
Hospital Nurse Loses Job After Making a Mistake That Led To Patient's Death
Nurses and other hospital staff members are often put in a position where they must make rapid decisions that can have a serious impact on a patient’s care. A hospital nurse in England recently experienced exactly this when she made the wrong decision that ultimately led to a patient’s death. The incident began when the nurse realized that she had accidentally discharged the woman’s husband instead of his wife.
Although it was a simple mistake, the nurse noticed that the woman did not recognize her husband. In an effort to find out why, the nurse asked the woman to wait in the hallway while she went to check with the doctor again. The woman was discharged, and the nurse apologized to the husband before sending him home as well.
In the middle of checking on the woman’s husband, the nurse made a wrong decision when she decided to take the man’s blood pressure. After finding that the patient’s blood pressure was normal, the nurse should have sent the man home. Instead, she decided to check his blood sugar. The nurse did not recognize that the patient was diabetic, and he later died from complications of the condition.
nursing mistakes and landing in jail
Man's Death Is a Loss for the Hospital
It was later discovered that the man was a regular visitor to the hospital. He would visit his wife regularly to check on her condition, and the staff believed that he did not realize that he had been discharged. This was due to the confusion that the initial mistake created. While he was a visitor, the man could have simply waited in the lobby or the hallway until he was properly identified by the staff.
Instead, the nurse sent the man home, and he died of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This is a life-threatening condition that occurs when a diabetic’s body is not able to produce enough insulin. The body then uses stored fat instead, causing the pH in the blood to decrease. Patients with DKA experience extreme thirst, passing out, and a fruity odor to their breath as the condition progresses.
Hospital Pays Heavy Price for Mistake
The hospital nurse was not the only one to pay a heavy price for the patient’s death. The couple’s four-year-old son also lost his mother and grew up without a parent. The boy’s social services were contacted, and he was eventually placed in foster care. The couple’s other children were placed in a home with other relatives.
Failed to Recognize a Patient’s Condition
The incident highlights the danger of making simple mistakes while caring for patients. The hospital nurse made a mistake in taking the sample of the man’s blood. She should have realized that he was diabetic and that his blood sugar was too low. The condition can be fatal if left untreated, and it is completely preventable.
Health care professionals are in a high-pressure position that can weigh heavily on the mind. Mistakes happen, however, and the hospital nurse in this case made a major one. The outcome could have been prevented if she had recognized the patient’s condition and acted appropriately. The hospital paid a heavy price for the mistake, and the couple’s son lost his mother as well as his legal guardian. If a loved one is unable to attend to a patient’s needs, relatives can fill in as certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are permitted to do under some circumstances.
All nursing homes are required to have a critical incident plan in place in case something unexpected happens. In this case, the plan should have been for the nurse to check with the doctor before discharging the patient. The hospital also needs to examine its processes to ensure that something like this never happens again.