A mother died after medical staff failed to realise her condition was critical, an inquest has heard.
Kathleen Britton (55), of Ballylaw Road, Strabane, died on June 4, 2006 as a result of peritonitis caused by a perforation of the bowel.
It was also revealed that she had been forced to wait in the Altnagelvin Hospital for over five hours before being seen by a senior consultant.
After hearing three days of testimony at Mrs Britton's inquest in Belfast this week, Coroner John Leckey said that if she had been operated on “much sooner” it “may have avoided the onset of peritonitis and improved her chances of survival”.
The mother-of-three, known as Kay, was rushed to hospital in the early hours of June 3, 2006, but the inquest heard that, despite her being critically ill, junior medical staff did not realise the seriousness of her condition and failed to make the correct diagnosis.
Kay’s son Gareth said the family were “angry” about the care their mother received in Altnagelvin Hospital and that they hoped that lessons have been learned.
However, he also emphasised that the family did not hold any animosity towards the junior doctor or staff who came into contact with his mother when she arrived at the hospital.
A senior consultant, Dr Sean McGovern, who was not involved in the treatment of Mrs Britton, told the inquest that new procedures are in place that provide “red flag warnings” to ensure senior consultants would be involved with ill patients much sooner.
A spokesperson for the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) said: “The trust will take on board any recommendations following this inquest.”
Dr Sean McGovern, based at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald, who compiled a report into the circumstances of Mrs Britton's death, agreed with the coroner that a key factor in the failure to give immediate adequate treatment was the lack of seniority of the staff that saw her when she arrived at the A&E department.