Patient With Stomach Ulcer Wrongly Given Naproxen in Hospital: Death Results in Inquiry

NHS failings as a mum of two dies from ‘multi-organ failure’ after visiting A&E at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, Fife, with a fractured knee. Her family was left ‘devastated and angry’ after a routine knee operation turned tragic following a catalogue of mistakes, including administering the wrong medication.

The family of Linda Allan, 59, called for medical staff involved in her care to be held accountable for failing her and accused the NHS board of ‘zero compassion’ after the tragedy. A Fatal Accident Inquiry is lined up for later in the year.

Wrong Medication and a Catalogue of Mistakes

Mrs Allan, aged 59, had a fall at home and was rushed to Victoria Hospital A&E. She was admitted to ward 33 with a fractured knee on 15th October 2019. She was scheduled for surgery two days later. Although the procedure was successful, she developed complications after a stomach ulcer burst during recovery.

According to medical records, Mrs Allan took Omeprazole to treat the stomach ulcer. As per medical protocols and guidelines, anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are discouraged for such patients. Her medical records confirmed : “Naproxen — does not take.”

Despite the explicit warning in her medical records, an internal review by NHS Fife discovered that she was prescribed Naproxen twice a day with at least 7 doses being received. Naproxen is a powerful nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) with a well-recognised risk of peptic ulcers and bleeding.

A report from the probe is understood to have revealed a series of mistakes in Mrs Allan’s care, including a lack of notes on conversations between the healthcare staff, a lack of post-surgery records, and a lack of records to document nursing handovers.

As far as we are concerned, every person that came into contact with our mum failed her. Those people should be held accountable and wider lessons need to be learnt to improve gaps in NHS processes so this doesn’t happen again, and we really hope the fatal accident inquiry will achieve this,” said 38-year-old Sharon Adams, Mrs Adam’s eldest daughter.

Agony and Devastation

Mrs Adam’s youngest daughter, Shona Adams, 36, said: “It’s absolutely disgusting that a fit healthy woman with a broken knee died within the care of the hospital.  We have lost everything. The treatment provided was dangerously incompetent. [It was] a hazardous situation that resulted in our mum’s death, which could have been avoided.”

Sharon added: “Mum was the rock of the family. We just couldn’t believe it had come to this with such a minor injury because we expect hospitals to be a safe place that provides care.”

Mrs Allan started complaining of stomach pains within 48 hours after her knee surgery. Her protests were initially dismissed as constipation from morphine administration, but her condition quickly deteriorated as she suffered agonising pain that rendered her unable to communicate with her daughters. Even then, the hospital pressed ahead with the post-surgery schedule.

The medical staff at Victoria Hospital went as far as moving her to the discharge ward in preparation for discharge home, but within hours, Mrs Allan suffered a cardiac arrest and was rushed to intensive care. It was later discovered that her stomach ulcer had burst, likely due to the administration of Naproxen.

Internal bleeding from the ulcer triggered multiple organ failures. The mum of two underwent emergency surgery, but it emerged her bowel was necrotic, and she had to be placed on a ventilator.

Linda Allan died on 23rd October 2019 after the family agreed to turn off her life support. A post-mortem examination confirmed ‘multi-organ failure’ as the cause of death.

When Linda’s ventilator was turned off, we were in complete disbelief. There was devastation but also anger and a truly crushing feeling,” Mrs Allan’s 52-year-old partner, Jamie Duff, said.

Probe into NHS Failings

Following complaints by the family on shortcomings in the care provided, NHS Fife launched a probe that recommended areas of improvement, including;

  • post-surgery reviews
  • note-taking
  • communication with next of kin
  • review of medications.

A Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) into the causes and circumstances of the death is listed for a preliminary hearing in July, with full proceedings lined up for later in the year.

Mrs Allan’s bereaved family expressed their frustration saying, “There has been zero compassion from the NHS. Everything in their care processes needs to be addressed — right down to being able to read simple notes. Linda wasn’t just a mum — she was our best friend and our whole world. She was the life and soul of the party. She was the best part of all of us — that’s why the failings of the NHS didn’t just end Linda’s life, they ended ours too.”

NHS Fife declined to comment on the tragic case of Linda Allan, citing existing legal proceedings and the scheduled Fatal Accident Inquiry. “We do, however, wish to extend our sincerest condolences to the family involved,” a spokesperson for the board added.

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