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NHS Direct Advice Leads To Boxing Day Death

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A nurse has been struck off the medical register following the death of a patient who she advised on an NHS Direct phone call.

The unknown patient called the free NHS advice line on Christmas Day to explain his symptoms of vomiting, diahorrea and a chesty cough with discoloured phlegm.

The senior nurse who took the call ignored the computer generated response she was given which advised a visit to Accident and Emergency. She instructed the man to take warm drinks and cough mixture from a pharmacist.

The man who had called the hotline twice was rushed to hospital the next day and died later after being diagnosed with pneumonia secondary to swine flu.

The senior nurse advisor, 59, had worked for NHS direct for 9 years and had 30 years nursing experience. However, the Nursing and Midwifery Council meeting of the Conduct and Competence Committee found her guilty of misconduct and she has been struck off the medical register.

It said that the patient would have benefitted from being reviewed by a medical expert and that the nurse’s actions ‘fell far below the standards expected of a nurse in her role.’

String of errors

During the investigation, other calls the nurse had taken were also reviewed and some were found to also be inadequate.

The findings reported that the nurse’s conduct had displayed a ‘lack of engagement’ and her dismissal was necessary as there was a high risk of repeated mistake happening again. It said that striking her off was the only way to protect public interest. The nurse had already been monitored by managers in the months leading up to the phone call.

The nurse said that the issues were because of the changes to the system during 2009.

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Published 11th February 2015.

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