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Dad Dies at Manchester Hospital after Monitoring Equipment Fails


Carolyn Birtwistle says her Dad, Alan, should be alive today and the fact that he isn’t is because of a catalogue of errors at Manchester Royal Infirmary which meant that vital heart monitoring equipment failed to warn staff that his heart had stopped.

The family is now taking legal action against the hospital through Manchester Solicitors Pannone LLP, where clinical negligence solicitor Helen Budge is handling the case.

60 year old Alan Bel, who was originally from Texas, but had lived in Salford for over thirty years, had suffered heart problems in the past and was fitted with a pacemaker in 2000. In June 2007 he underwent a routine battery replacement but 2 weeks later he showed signs of infection and was readmitted to hospital. Following a number of tests, it was decided that the pacemaker was the source of the infection and this was removed in late October.

Because Alan’s heart was no longer regulated by the pacemaker, he needed to be carefully monitored using cardiac monitoring equipment. He was last seen alive by nursing staff at 11:30 PM on 9th November. 30 minutes later he was found in a state of cardiac arrest. The “crash team” was called but sadly he could not be resuscitated and was pronounced dead an hour later.

Alarm Volume Turned Down
The inquest into the death heard that the monitoring equipment’s “failsafe” setting had been switched “off” when the equipment had been originally installed and the alarm volume had been manually turned down. It was also discovered that one of the antennas had been unplugged from the housing unit attached to the nurses’ station, which meant that there were only intermittent signals being received from the machine monitoring him.

Evidence at the inquest from a Consultant Cardiologist said that, had the monitoring equipment been working as designed and intended, and the cardiac arrest detected immediately, Alan’s life would have been saved.

Lessons Must Be Learnt
Carolyn Birtwistle said, “We are glad the inquest has highlighted the truth about what happened to my dad. We want lessons to be learnt so that no-one else has to go through what we went through. Whilst we cannot praise the ordinary nursing staff enough, the hospital’s management and senior nursing staff have been uncommunicative and unapproachable. We simply want justice for my father and that is why we are proceeding with legal action against the hospital for negligence. It is only by doing this that anything will really be done.”

Commenting for Pannone, Senior Clinical Negligence Solicitor Emma Holt said, “This is a tragic case where a life has been lost through carelessness. I can confirm that we are pursuing action against the NHS Trust concerned.”


 Clinical Negligence
 Compensation Claims
 Manchester Hospital
 Equipment Failure
 Carolyn Birtwistle

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