Poor hospital records 'could cost lives' in Blackpool

Blackpool Victoria Hospital entrance Image copyright Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Image caption The trust, which runs Blackpool Victoria Hospital, said it was considering introducing electronic records

Poor record keeping at a hospital trust could put lives at risk, coroners have warned.

Medics had been unable to learn lessons from deaths in Blackpool because paperwork was lost, incomplete or illegible, coroners told the trust.

In one case, an inquest went ahead without hospital records because they could not be found.

The trust which manages the town's hospitals apologised and said it was considering making records digital.

In the most recent of a series of letters sent to Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the town's assistant coroner Tim Holloway said documents relating to the death of James Fletcher at Blackpool Victoria Hospital in July 2018 were not provided before an inquest.

'Poor and illegible'

Mr Holloway said he feared the hospital's approach to record keeping risked the miscommunication of details about patient care and meant chances to learn lessons from deaths "may be compromised".

Blackpool's senior coroner Alan Wilson wrote to the trust in April 2019 to outline a risk that "future deaths will occur" unless action was taken on record keeping.

Mr Wilson said an investigation into the death of Tina Tait in hospital in June 2018 was hampered by "poor and illegible" documents.

The coroner stated he had written to the trust in October 2017 raising concerns that one inquest had gone ahead without hospital paperwork and he had received a report into a death which was written in the absence of records which had been lost.

"I remain concerned that the trust's procedures... are jeopardising the likelihood of the correct lessons arising from a death investigation being learned," added the letter.

A letter from assistant coroner Clare Doherty in October 2016 said missing paperwork meant staff giving evidence to an inquest into the death of a patient in February that year had been unable to remember events.

A spokesman for the trust said an electronic system making records quickly available to doctors would be considered by its board in September.

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