Rachel Johnston was a 49 year old woman who suffered brain damage after contracting meningitis as a baby.
On 26 October 2018, Ms Johnston underwent surgery at Kidderminster Hospital for a “full dental clearance”, where all her teeth were removed due to severe tooth decay and a lifetime of dental problems.
Her mother, Mrs Johnston, asked whether a few teeth could be taken out at a time but was told the hospital “only wanted to put her under general anaesthetic once”.
During the operation, Ms Johnston’s temperature dropped, however, during recovery, she was described as being in “high spirits” and was discharged four hours later.
The following day, Mrs Johnston received a phone call from the care home staff where Ms Johnston resided, to say that Ms Johnston was very unwell. Ms Johnston was bleeding, her “tongue had swollen” and she was described as “just lying there…like there was no life.”
The following day, Ms Johnston was rushed into hospital with breathing difficulties. She was put on a life support machine but her family was eventually told that there was nothing more the doctors could do. Ms Johnston died on 13 November 2018, 10 days after the life support machine was turned off.
A coroner and three clinical commissioning groups are investigating Ms Johnston’s death. Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust has insisted it followed the correct procedures for vulnerable patients.
Sarah Coleman, from Mencap has stated that “there should never be a situation where such extreme treatment comes as surprise”. Sarah also stated that “more must be done to ensure people with a learning disability can access good quality dental care as soon as they need it, before we reach the point where multiple teeth need to be extracted.”
Campaigners have stated they are frequently told of poor communication between disabled patients and their families. It has also been suggested that dentists should intervene earlier to avoid such “drastic” full extractions.
Fahmidah Ali, Solicitor and Dental Negligence Specialist, said,
“I am saddened that there still appears to be communication barriers between dentists, patients and their families where any form of disability is concerned. All patients should receive the same quality of care and level of service from the NHS and more should be done to avoid such drastic treatment. I would be interested to talk to anybody who feels they have been a victim of inadequate dental treatment.”
As a highly experienced firm with expert teams based in Birmingham and Worcester, we have secured awards for many clients following negligent medical treatment. If you or a member of your family have suffered from poor medical treatment, Medical Accident Group can help. Our team of specialist medical negligence solicitors have over 30 years’ experience. We will guide you through the process of making a claim. If you believe you have a claim, call the team now on 0800 050 1668.