Nurses failed to revive patient at St Leonards nursing home

TWO nurses who let a toothless pensioner choke to death on a piece of sausage at a St Leonards nursing home, after ‘deliberately’ failing to resuscitate him have been thrown out of the profession.

Patrick Wilson-Canning, along with Maureen Harper, allowed the 80-year-old Alzheimer’s patient to eat the ‘inappropriate’ meal of bangers and mash unsupervised, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.

After finding the pensioner slumped in his chair with very pale skin, blue lips and no signs of movement, Wilson-Canning, 62, and Harper, 58, failed to follow instructions from an ambulance controller to revive him.

Harper told the controller: ‘It’s too late, he’s already dead’.

She added there was no point attempting to resuscitate the pensioner as ‘he is a demented person; the hearing was told.

Paramedics were forced to wait outside the privately-run care home for six minutes before fighting in vain to save Patient A, who choked on a sausage lodged in his windpipe.

Wilson-Canning, who lives in Bexhill, was deputy manager at Southdowns Nursing Home in The Green at the time of the incident on December 10, 2005.

The death of Patient A, who also suffered from Parkinson’s disease, was investigated by police but no charges were brought against Wilson-Canning or Harper.

An inquest in Hastings later ruled that the 80-year-old was the victim of an accidental death caused by neglect, but no one person was to blame.

Wilson-Canning and Harper were then the two registered nurses on duty at the home, which cares for 30 elderly patients with mental health difficulties, including Patient A.

Giving evidence, Wilson-Canning, of Grange Court Drive, Bexhill, admitted he ‘panicked’ after arriving for his shift at 7.45am to find he was short-staffed, his chefs had not arrived and the lift was not working.

Describing the day in question as ‘extraordinarily difficult’, he told the tribunal that he didn’t see two quiches already prepared by the home’s full-time chef.

Instead, he decided to make bangers and mash – one of the only meals he could cook.

‘It was a very bad error of judgement to move him and not resuscitate him,’ Wilson-Canning said.

He has since resigned from his position at the home.

The NMC panel found both Wilson-Canning and Harper guilty of not performing basic life support on Patient A, including not attempting to resuscitate the pensioner and failing to follow the ambulance controller’s instructions.

Harper, was found guilty of providing an inappropriate meal for Patient A, and not ensuring he was observed while eating.

She was also found guilty of failing to instruct staff to ensure paramedics could gain access to the building, a charge which Wilson-Canning admitted.

But while Wilson-Canning was found guilty of failing to delegate the responsibility of preparing lunchtime meals to a junior member of staff, Harper was cleared of the charge.

Both nurses were also cleared of failing to update Patient A’s care plan following a GP visit on December 9, 2005, when it was apparent that he had difficulty swallowing, a sore throat and had refused breakfast.

The NMC panel ruled that both Wilson-Canning and Harper’s fitness to practice was impaired by reason of their misconduct.

Both Wilson-Canning and Harper have 28 days to appeal against the decision.