Stafford twins' death: Failings in care, says coroner
- 23 May 2012
- From the section Stoke & Staffordshire
There were "failings" in the care of premature twins who died after being given an overdose of morphine, a coroner has ruled.
Alfie and Harry McQuillin, who were born at Stafford Hospital, died on 1 November 2010, at two days old.
Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh said the morphine overdose "played a part in their deaths" but the hospital was not guilty of gross neglect.
The NHS Trust said it was "very sorry" the care given was "not good enough".
In recording a narrative verdict, the coroner said he could not say the babies died of natural causes and they had received "sub-optimal treatment".
He said the cause of their deaths was "complications in extreme prematurity".
The twins were born 13 weeks early on 30 October 2010.
The coroner's court heard they were put on to a ventilator and given a dose of morphine, which was standard practice, but there was confusion over the exact amount that should be administered.
Their condition began to deteriorate, so the twins were transferred to University Hospital of North Staffordshire but later died.
The twins' mother Ami Dean, 25, said their deaths had been "totally avoidable".
"I could have coped with them dying from prematurity, as that would have been nobody's fault," she said.
"[Their deaths] were down to human error, which is something I cannot cope with."
Miss Dean and her partner Philip McQuillin said they were happy with the verdict but would have to live with the memory of their babies fighting for survival.
She said: "When they opened their eyes, they were looking at me as they were fitting, so it was like, 'Help', to help them, if you know what I mean.
"So I haven't really got any memories. I had them dying in my arms, and that's not a memory."
The couple said they believed the twins would still be alive if they had been taken to a different hospital.
Miss Dean, who is expecting a daughter in August, and her partner are pursuing a personal injury claim against Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
The family's solicitor Richard Follis claimed it was "series of errors" that led to the twins' deaths.
He said: "I think Stafford Hospital are trying to say this was simply down to individual error and they're trying to walk away from all responsibility.
"That isn't how the totality of the evidence came out, the hospital must bear some responsibility here."
The trust has expressed its "deepest sympathy".
Chief operating officer Maggie Oldham said: "We are very sorry that the care provided was not good enough.
"This has been a long and difficult process for the entire family and our thoughts remain with them at this time."