Page last updated at 00:04 GMT, Thursday, 11 October 2007 01:04 UK

'The ward smelt of diarrhoea'

Mrs Gosal
Mrs Gosal lay in a hospital bed next to a woman with severe diarrhoea
The Healthcare Commission has issued a damning report into how the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust in Kent handled outbreaks of the bacterial infection Clostridium Difficile.

Ranjit Gosal, who was 71, died of the infection shortly after being discharged from Maidstone Hospital. Her son John describes what happened.

My mum went into hospital for a major, but pretty routine, operation in May 2007. She had stage four ovarian cancer and she was having a hysterectomy.

The operation went smoothly, but I guess the problems started with the heavy duty antibiotics she was given afterwards to ward off infection.

These really lowered her resistance levels to C.difficile and so once she came into contact with the bacterium her body found it hard to fight.

It was a dirty ward, and the beds were very close together. The woman in the next bed had really bad diarrhoea - which I now know was in all likelihood was linked to C.difficile infection.

It smelt terrible, the ward smelt terrible, and no-one seemed to do much about it.

She felt she still had things to look forward to but it was all taken away by an infection which could have been avoided

My mum was discharged at the beginning of June. Shortly after coming home she had really bad, explosive diarrhoea.

This is obviously the main symptom of C.difficile, but of course I didn't know that then. I'd never even heard of it.

Nobody at the hospital had ever mentioned it, we had never been given any pamphlets or anything. This seemed extraordinary after I found they'd been dealing with a major outbreak and obviously knew all about it.

I called the hospital that night. They told me to reduce the laxatives my mum had been out on to stop her getting constipated. They didn't mention C.difficile. It was a very brief conversation.

Desperate for water

My mum's condition got worse and worse. To be fair, it wasn't just the hospital who didn't seem to know what they were dealing with.

We saw three doctors who didn't pick up on it, and the last one prescribed her the same broad spectrum antibiotics again, which only made it worse.

I took my mum into Dartford hospital that evening. She was incredibly dehydrated because of the diarrhoea, but they wouldn't let her drink because they thought they were going to have to operate.

She was desperate for something to drink.

And then she died.

She was 71. She wasn't old. And yes, she had a serious - and terminal - medical condition. But she still could have had a few good years.

She was very upbeat.

She was going out and about in her car, she had just had building work done on her house which she'd overseen - she was completely compos mentis.

She felt she still had things to look forward to. But it was all taken away by something which could have been avoided.

video and audio news
Victim's son describes the poor conditions

Coroner shocked by C. Diff deaths
27 Jul 07 |  Nottinghamshire
Deadly NHS bug 'underestimated'
31 May 07 |  Health

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