BBC Home > BBC News > Wales

Cancer sufferer died from C.diff

11 May 09 10:58 GMT

The husband of a woman who was told she had beaten cancer but who died from C.difficile days later, has been given £100,000 compensation by an NHS trust.

Sian Ptolomey, 25, from Bridgend, was told she was winning her six month battle against Hodgkin's lymphoma.

But after developing vomiting and diarrhoea symptoms, she was told they were side effects of chemotherapy.

Velindre NHS Trust's inquiry into her death in 2005 found there had been failings in identifying her symptoms.

Ms Ptolomey, a prison administrative manager, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2005 but was told there was an 85% chance of a cure.

She made the 20-mile journey to Velindre hospital in Cardiff from her home in Bridgend every two weeks for chemotherapy treatment.

When she complained of a swollen back, vomiting and diarrhoea a few weeks before she died she was told they were side effects of the cancer treatment.

But less than a week after being told that her cancer sessions were succeeding in beating the disease she was admitted to her local hospital seriously ill.

Her father Terry Pickett said: "From being told she had virtually beaten cancer and everything was looking rosy we were now being told she had no chance of surviving the night.

"She died 26 hours after being admitted with me and her husband holding her hands."

Mr Pickett said the doctor at Bridgend's Princess of Wales Hospital told them they suspected clostridium difficile which led to a ruptured bowel and severe blood poisoning.

"The doctor said if she had been treated earlier she would still be alive today," he said.

"I don't want Sian to have died in vain, I don't want this to happen to any other young person or go through the agony we have endured."

The primary cause of death on Ms Ptolomey's death certificate is listed as septic shock (clostridium difficile).

Velindre hospital launched an investigation and sent their findings to her family admitting failings in relation to identifying her symptoms.


Her husband William Ptolomey, 34, who she had married 17 months before, has been given more than £100,000 in compensation by Velindre NHS Trust in an out-of-court settlement.

The trust have also apologised to Ms Ptolomey's family.

Chief executive Allison Williams said: "Staff work extremely hard to ensure that good infection control procedures are in place to protect patients.

"We are committed to taking all possible precautions to protect our patients from infection.

"However in the small number of occasions where they do occur we routinely carry out a thorough investigation, apologise to patients and their families as appropriate.

"And we ensure that we learn from the circumstances to minimise the risk of them happening again."

Related BBC sites