'A catalogue of cock-ups': Family's complaint after Hull nurse dies at Castle Hill Hospital
THE family of an award-winning nurse who died after complications from cancer treatment have lodged a complaint about the care she received.
Sue Robertson, 56, suffered a rare heart problem triggered by her first course of chemotherapy following an operation on her bowel.
Mrs Robertson, a district nurse, was admitted to ward 31 of Castle Hill Hospital suffering severe vomiting.
She was prescribed an intravenous drip to keep her hydrated but Mrs Robertson's family said it took 16 hours before treatment began.
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At an inquest into her death, Mrs Robertson's husband, Tony, said: "From the time she started to feel unwell, it was just a catalogue of cock-ups.
"Everything time-wise was just extended beyond what, in my view, was reasonable.
"I just think yes, it may not have saved her life but it might have made her last hours a little bit more bearable."
The delay came about because nurses were surprised by the high dose of fluids prescribed and wanted to check them with a doctor.
Giving evidence at the inquest, staff nurse Angela Finn said it was felt the prescription "needed clarifying".
She said she asked the doctor to check the prescription "a number of times" and administered fluids as soon as she knew it was correct.
Mrs Robertson's death was not linked to the delay.
Instead, it was caused by a rare reaction to widely used cancer drug Fluorouracil, or 5FU, which affects about one in 1,000 people.
Consultant histopathologist Dr Steven Beck carried out Mrs Robertson's post-mortem.
Addressing her husband at the inquest, he said: "I've been a pathologist for 35 years and I've never seen this before.
"Just by her bad luck, your wife responded badly to a totally standard approach.
"The events have come about because of an intrinsic property of your wife's heart cells. They weren't designed to be exposed to 5FU and a very small percentage of the population is the same."
Coroner David Rosenberg said it was outside the inquest's scope to consider questions about Mrs Robertson's care not directly relating to her death on September 27 last year.
Recording a verdict of death by natural causes, he said the effect of the drug on Mrs Robertson's heart was "completely unpredictable".
A spokesman for Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust said: "We would like to express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Susan Robertson and we acknowledge the Coroner's verdict of death by natural causes.
"This case is currently the subject of a formal complaint and we will respond to the family accordingly."
Mrs Robertson was a nurse based at Orchard Park Health Centre in north Hull.
In 2008, she won the Hull Daily Mail's Health And Social Care Worker Of The Year award.
Mr Robertson said: "She talked to anybody. She gave 110 per cent and she worked 12 or 14 hours a day."