Sheffield's Northern General Hospital apologises after man died following MRI scan delays

Northern General Hospital, Sheffield.
Northern General Hospital, Sheffield.
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A top boss at a Sheffield hospital has apologised to the family of a patient who died following delays in him getting a scan.

Dr David Throssell, medical director of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said he was 'very sorry' that there were delays in carrying out an MRI scan on George Dunnicliffe at the Northern General Hospital in March 2017.

Mr Dunnicliffe was admitted to hospital after becoming unwell at Springwood Care Home, Shirecliffe and had a CT scan after being referred by the GP who visited the home.

His niece Sharon Ashton said: "He went in hospital because his GP at Springwood said he was not quite right. His GP said he wanted him to go in for tests and have a scan.

"He was kept in overnight after his CT revealed a grey haze but the scan report was bouncing around for five days. He went in on a Tuesday and on the Wednesday we asked about the MRI scan.

"We kept asking every day and then he fell on the Saturday. He had a big bump on his head but the hospital told us that his MRI scan request wasn't classed as 'urgent'."

Ms Ashton said she formally complained to the hospital and the Parliamentary Health Ombudsman following her uncle's death.

She added: "The hospital admitted that there were 'communication and system errors' which led to a delay in them carrying out the MRI scan.

"They said some of the delays were because my uncle wasn't able to confirm if he had any metal objects on him but surely the fact that he had dementia should have been taken into consideration.

"My uncle was a human being, not a statistic but he was literally bed blocking because of the delays with the scan - and not of his own accord either.

"No-one should have to wait five days for a scan and that was the whole purpose of him going in."

Mr Dunnicliffe died in Royal Hallamshire Hospital on April 12, 2017 at the age of 93.

Ms Ashton added: "I think it might have saved him had he had the scan sooner."

Dr Throssell said: “Our staff work exceptionally hard to ensure we provide good care to all our patients and so we are very sorry that on this occasion some of the processes, which involved necessary safety checks, to enable Mr Dunnicliffe to have an MRI scan took longer than expected.

"Mr Dunnicliffe did have a CT scan when he arrived at hospital which showed that he had suffered a stroke.He also underwent several further brain scans during his time in hospital.

"The MRI scan gives a more detailed picture of the brain and when it was performed it confirmed the same diagnosis as the CT scan. We do, however, acknowledge that the time taken to carry out the MRI scan was longer than expected and we have given a full apology to Mr Dunnicliffe’s family.

"We have also thoroughly reviewed his care to ensure changes are made to our processes to limit the chances of this happening again.”