St Richard’s Hospital has apologised ‘unreservedly’ after it added false comments to a patient’s medical documents.
Jonathan Murphy, 47, of Ealey Road, Tangmere, Chichester, was receiving treatment at the hospital in Chichester after sustaining a broken neck in January when a member of hospital staff noted ‘disgusting and totally untrue information’, according to his wife Rachel.
She added: “The false offending comments were that Jonathan was an ‘IV drug user’ and abuses alcohol and we live in an ‘unsafe environment’. He has been abstinent from alcohol for 31 months now and the comments about being a drug user were all wrong.
“It’s like they got it out of the air. I just have no idea why they said that.”
Jonathan said the comments, which he said also claimed he had ‘personality disorder’, were ‘completely untrue and unfounded’.
He added: “It all has been very stressful for us and I cannot trust them any more.”
The false comments later came to light when the couple visited their GP surgery and Jonathan was ‘directly asked if he was a drug user’.
Having then made two letters of complaint to the hospital, the couple said they finally received an apologetic response on Thursday.
Rachel said as a result of the false comments, her husband had been refused treatment at Bognor Memorial Hospital, had been forced to walk in a neck-brace to Tangmere Medical Centre, as no-one would visit his home to treat him, and that receptionists and two GPs at their surgery had seen the false information.
“Bognor hospital wouldn’t have him because they are an all female team,” she explained. “They said it wouldn’t be fair on the other patients. He had to walk in a neck brace to the hospital because they wouldn’t come and treat him.”
Full-time wheelchair user Rachel, who has muscular dystrophy, also revealed their community nurses, who had been coming to their home once every ten weeks for the last three years, ‘reluctantly accepted’ giving Jonathan collar treatment. She said the nurses ‘have never felt at risk from my husband’ and stressed that their home is ‘extremely safe’.
Nicola Ranger, chief nurse at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said the incident ‘never should have occurred’.
She added: “We apologise unreservedly for the upset and distress Mr and Mrs Murphy have experienced as a result of false comments added to medical notes.
“We have thoroughly investigated what happened, shared our findings with Mr and Mrs Murphy, and have corrected our medical records and taken action to ensure medical records held outside our trust will also be corrected.
“We have met with the family, continue to offer our support and are very sorry how this has impacted upon their lives and care they have received.”
Rachel added: “The comments they put in the notes were disgusting. It can’t be changed now but they have caused a lot of damage and distress. If it had been an elderly person, and they refused to come and see them because of the false notes, there could have been a death in the community.”
Jonathan added: “People should check their medical records. I used to work in the NHS so I know they are meant to be non-judgemental. It is very unprofessional. It shouldn’t happen.”