Leicester Royal Infirmary sorry over 100-year-old's death

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Media captionThe family said the staff did not show basic compassion for Lydia Spilner

A "catastrophic error" led to a 100-year-old great-grandmother dying from dehydration, a hospital has admitted.

Lydia Spilner went into the Leicester Royal Infirmary with a chest infection but her condition deteriorated after a drip was removed.

Her family, who have now agreed an undisclosed out-of-court settlement, also criticised the attitude of staff.

The hospital has apologised and said it had made changes in leadership and increased staffing.

Mrs Spilner was admitted to the Leicester Royal Infirmary in January 2012 and was temporarily put on a drip.

Family 'pleaded'

She was then transferred to an elderly care ward, where her health started to deteriorate.

Her daughter Nora, from Tilton on the Hill, Leicestershire, visited her every day and soon became alarmed at her condition.

She said: "One afternoon when I visited, I noticed that she had no water to drink.

"I requested a jug from the nurse but she said the jug was broken and they had no others available.

"My mum's skin was becoming dry and cracked and it was clear to me she was very dehydrated. I pleaded with the doctors to put her back on a drip but it took 10 days for them to take action."

The family also found her with food in her hair, wet bed sheets and, on one occasion, lying on the floor.

Mrs Spilner died of renal failure caused by dehydration on the 22 February.

Similar cases

Nora added: "In hindsight, I wish I had taken her back home then. I firmly believe I could have taken better care of her and she would still be alive today."

Sue Mason, divisional head of nursing at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: "It's clear that our failure to give Mrs Spilner intravenous fluids was a catastrophic error for which we have apologised.

"We know that saying sorry won't bring her back but we at least want her family to know that we will not avoid our responsibility. We are truly sorry.

"As regards the equally important issue of the compassion shown to Mrs Spilner, since this happened in 2012, we have changed the nurse leadership on this ward, increased staffing levels and introduced hourly ward rounds.

"Again, we realise these actions will not alter anything for the family but we hope that it shows we take their experience seriously."

Robert Rose, a medical lawyer and partner with Lime Solicitors, who represented the family, said Mrs Spilner's case was one of several they have dealt with involving basic failings in elderly care at the same hospital.

"The fact that we have dealt with other cases against the same hospital in similar circumstances is of great concern.

"We are urging the trust to prove to the local community it serves that real improvements have since been made to elderly patient care at Leicester Royal Infirmary," he said

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