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Nurses found guilty over Mid Staffs insulin death

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Two senior nurses at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust have been found guilty of failing to ensure a patient with diabetes and dementia received vital insulin medication.

A fitness to practise panel concluded last week that both nurses were to blame for errors that led to the death of 66-year-old Gillan Astbury in April 2007.

Ms Astbury was admitted after a fall where she fractured her pelvis. Despite her need for insulin being documented and told to staff, senior staff nurse Ann King and ward manager Jeannette Coulson did not check her notes, ensure observations were taken or that medication was given.

Ms Astbury went for 48 hours without insulin and ultimately slipped into a coma and died.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council panel found the fitness to practise of both was impaired and their behaviour amounted to misconduct.

Ms Coulson and Ms King were also found guilty of a series of failures between 2005 and 2010, including swearing at patients and lying about putting fresh dressings on wounds.

NMC panel chair James Daniell told Ms King she had committed clinical failings “over a protracted period” and Ms Coulson had “lost sight of her managerial duties”.

The panel said both nurses had shown insight into their failures. For example, Ms Coulson had “demonstrated commitment to her patients by frequently working far longer than she was contracted to” and the panel accepted “her attitude to patient care was commendable”.

The panel ran out of time last week to determine whether their actions were serious enough to warrant being struck off, though it ruled neither nurse would be subjected to an interim suspension.

The case was adjourned until September when a final decision will be made.

A previous jury inquest had found the failure to administer insulin amounted to a gross failure to provide basic care. The Health and Safety Executive has launched a separate criminal investigation.

  • A former Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust nurse has resigned from her current post at the organisation after being struck-off by the NMC two weeks ago. The trust revealed that Tracy White had resigned with immediate effect. She was a senior accident and emergency sister during the care scandal at Mid Staffs, but had subsequently been promoted to a clinical site manager role.

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