Relatives of a grandmother who contracted a superbug and died in hospital are suing the Northern Trust for alleged negligence leading to her death.
The family of 83-year-old Rose Teresa Reid, who was treated at Northern Trust-managed Mid Ulster and Antrim Area hospitals before she was transferred to Craigavon Area Hospital where she died in 2008, issued a writ claiming damages from the Northern Trust on Friday.
Her heartbroken daughter has told of the daily struggle she endures to cope with the death of her mother — the second tragedy to hit her family in a two-year period. Unusually, Mrs Reid’s death certificate lists the primary cause of her death as sepsis or blood poisoning associated with Clostridium difficile — it is rare for one of the main causes of death to be attributed to a superbug.
The Northern Trust, which is at the heart of a public inquiry into an outbreak of C-difficile at its facilities, has refused to comment on the legal proceedings into the death of the Co Londonderry grandmother.
Fighting back tears, her daughter Siobhan McGuigan — who lost a son through suicide just months before the death of her mother — explained she tries to block the memories of her mother’s painful death from her mind.
“It’s very hard, I don’t like talking about it,” she said. “She was a lovely woman. One of the times she was was sick she told me she had no intention of dying because of what had happened to my son.
“I know it’s probably not healthy but I don’t let myself think about it. I have to give a statement about what happened and I don’t know how I’m going to manage.”
Mrs Reid, from Draperstown, was admitted to Mid Ulster and Antrim Area hospitals on a number of occasions in the months leading up to her death suffering with gallstones — a common and relatively minor condition. Mrs McGuigan explained: “Her health was grand. The gallstones were the only problem.”
Mrs Reid was subsequently discharged from Antrim and was given medication to take at home. Mrs McGuigan said her mother’s condition deteriorated when she completed the treatment. She became increasingly unwell and was admitted to the intensive care unit at Mid Ulster.
Mrs McGuigan said: “She was in severe pain. She was going downhill, she was dying. They thought her bowel had died and decided to operate. When they opened her up they realised her bowel had leaked and she was being poisoned.
“I had a brother who had gastric bypass surgery and it caused his bowel to leak and it was like deja vu. She was transferred to Craigavon because they couldn’t care for her at the ‘Mid’.
“It was an unpleasant end, she suffered terribly. How did she end up dying of C-difficile when she was being treated for gallstones? I know the inquiry is hoping to answer questions and stop anything like this happening again.”
A spokeswoman from the Northern Trust said: “We cannot comment on the case”.