TWO brothers have spoken of the gap that their mother’s death has left in their hearts.
Deborah Lewington, 52, of Limbrick Lane, Goring, died in Worthing Hospital on August 31 last year after being admitted for a platelet transfusion.
She had been battling for nine years with breast cancer, which had spread to her lungs, liver and bones, making her weak and unable to walk without assistance.
After being transferred from the hospital’s acute medical unit to Eartham ward, Mrs Lewington fell while using the bathroom, bumping her head on the toilet bowl when left alone. It was two days before she had a CT scan, which revealed swelling on the brain.
Mrs Lewington’s family challenged the care of Worthing Hospital staff during the inquest, which took place at Centenary House in Durrington, on June 18.
They identified a failure to carry out a falls assessment, delay in a CT scan and lack of communication over the severity of Mrs Lewington’s condition.
Ben Roberts said: “Mum was poorly for quite a long time and was in and out of hospital. This time she had gone in to get some platelets, which was something she had done a lot and was not out of the ordinary.
“We knew she was not going to live to an old age but there was nothing said or implied that she did not have long left.”
Assistant coroner Karen Henderson concluded that Mrs Lewington’s death was accidental death with a background of metastatic breast cancer and bone marrow failure. She said: “It is very clear that Mrs Lewington was very unwell and that despite treatment, the cancer had inexorably spread throughout the body.
“That fall, perhaps trivial in many other people, took on important significance and I find that it was this fall that led to her death and shortened her life by a small but important length of time.”
Mrs Lewington’s sons, Ben and Dan, said: “Mum was a charismatic, caring, inspirational and brave woman with a love for life and people. She was lady with a huge smile and an even bigger heart who was welcoming to everyone and never far away if anyone needed support.
“Mum bravely battled with cancer and her death was from a subdural haematoma (blow to the head), which was suffered while under the care of the hospital. Although after being admitted to hospital it was unlikely that she could have returned home, the family could have had a few more months with her, had the care that was given been up to a standard that we expect from our health service.
“Mum will always be loved and missed and has left an un-fillable gap in all of our hearts.”
Interim head of nursing Julie Thomas said lessons had been learned and initial assessments at the hospital had improved.