New figures show that 75 patients are dying in UK hospitals and care homes each day with conditions potentially caused by neglect. In 2010, over 27,000 people died with bedsores or infected wounds – an increase by more than 50% in a decade.
New figures show that 75 patients are dying in UK hospitals and care homes each day with conditions potentially caused by neglect. In 2010, over 27,000 people died with bedsores or infected wounds – an increase by more than 50% in a decade. Bedsores occur when patients are not turned regularly, or are left in poor hygiene. They may become infected if not spotted and tended to quickly. While in many cases the sores and infections were not the cause of death, experts said their presence demonstrated that thousands of patients were receiving poor treatment during the last days and weeks of their lives.
The Daily Mail reports that figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in 2010, 155 patients died in hospital from dehydration and a further 48 died from malnutrition. Another 812 died with dehydration and another 301 with malnutrition, although the conditions did not directly cause death.
While some attribute these deaths to poor care, officials who compiled the statistics noted that some illnesses such as Alzheimer’s or certain forms of cancer make it very difficult for patients to eat or drink. However, Katherine Murphy of the Patients Association said: “These figures are a terrible indictment of our precious National Health Service. They represent avoidable deaths. These people needed our care when they were at their most vulnerable.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “Many patients who suffer or die from malnutrition and dehydration are admitted to hospital with these conditions and have underlying health conditions like cancer that make them more susceptible to these problems. However, every NHS patient has the right to expect that they are looked after properly in hospital.”
A series of scandals over care of the elderly prompted the discovery, and led to an intervention from UK Prime Minister David Cameron this month ordering nurses to attend to patients more often. Last year, a report by the Health Service Ombudsman berated the National Health Service for treating the elderly inhumanely. ~ Daily Mail, Jan 22; Telegraph, Jan 29
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