Wembley sickle cell sufferer died due to 'neglect' at Northwick Park Hospital
- Credit: Lorraine Airey
A heart broken mother is calling for special training for all NHS staff after her sickle cell disease-suffering son was left to fatally overdose on morphine in hospital.
Tyrone Airey, known also as Tai Malone, "needlessly died" at Northwick Park Hospital on March 17.
At his inquest on September 28, Barnet Coroners' Court ruled the 46-year-old's death was "contributed to by neglect" at the Watford Road hospital.
The court ruling stated: "Tyrone Airey died in hospital from morphine toxicity whilst receiving treatment for a sickle cell crisis.
"The staff did not follow the required monitoring and escalation for pain score, sedation scores and monitoring of blood oxygen saturation on air did not take place at the intervals stated in local trust guidelines and national guidelines for acute pain associated with sickle cell disease.
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"The nursing staff had insufficient training to manage and monitor Mr Airey or his PCA pump and as a consequence the excessive administration, of morphine, was not corrected and Mr Airey died from the toxic effects of morphine."
Tyrone's mother, Lorraine Airey, is calling on the London North West University (LNWU) hospital trust, and all hospital trusts, to train staff on all wards about sickle cell disease, before someone else dies.
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Sickle cell disease is a genetic red blood cell problem that affects millions of people each year.
Sticky sickle-shaped red blood cells carry less oxygen inside the blood which means that the pains can happen in any part of the body.
Lorraine said: "My son being 46 and being born with sickle cell, I mean, nearly 50 years later we are still at square one.
"He's been in hospital at least 45 times and we are still at this level when it comes to the care of a sickle cell patient who is having a crisis. It's appalling."
Tyrone, who lived in Dagmar Avenue, attended the hospital on March 16 with pains in his chest and back.
"They moved him to a ward in the afternoon with no medication and left him to suffer in pain for half an hour or so," said Lorraine. "Then moved him to another ward and once he was fitted with a morphine pump they just left him so he just stayed there and overdosed.
"They are supposed to monitor it and they didn't.
"When he was comatose, to them he was just sleeping. It was kitchen staff that alerted them and by that time he was already dead."
LNWU Trust said it plans to build a sickle cell unit following Tyrone's death.
Lorraine said: "I have asked that they don't just train the sickle cell ward but all wards, all staff, because people with sickle cell present on any ward so there's no point having a specialist unit and that's it.
"If they come in and you don't know they have sickle cell and they are placed somewhere else, the same can happen again."
She said her "handsome son" was "very cheerful and jovial, loved life, lived life, travelled a lot – a true creative".
"He was a singer songwriter and making a name for himself," said Lorraine.
"He also made costume jewellery for fashion shoots and wedding parties.
"He had his whole life ahead of him. This shouldn't have happened, he didn't need to die. He was too young to die, this needlessly.
He mustn't die in vain."
She added: "The care in hospital has always been terrible, they don't believe people with sickle cell when they say they are in pain and they leave them in pain but it's never resulted in death before, and for the little ones I would hate for them to follow that same trajectory."
Dr Jon Baker, chief medical officer at LNWU, said: “We offer our sincere condolences and unreserved apologies to Mr Airey’s family.
"We have carried out an internal investigation into the care and treatment Mr Airey received and fully accept that his care fell below the standards we would expect.
“The trust has taken on board all the concerns raised by the coroner along with recommendations, to learn from what has happened to Mr Airey and prevent it from happening again.
“This includes establishing a dedicated sickle cell unit on our haematology ward. In addition, staff have already undertaken significant sickle cell training with improving technical skills on providing pain control and delivering in-depth training with our sickle cell nurse specialist.
“We continue to work on the recommendations provided by the coroner and our trust board will monitor our progress against these requirements.”