Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Your life in their hands

Thanks to those who posted such kind comments about my father-in-law. He died yesterday. It's hard to believe that only two weeks ago, he was at a party.

I have removed the original posting as it has been overtaken by events.


JRSM said...

My thoughts are with you and your wife, for what that's worth.

My dad's father was killed by a case of a doctor's bad handwriting: what should have said 20mg of opiates looked to the chemist like 200mg, and he was accidentally overdosed.

Scriptor Senex said...

My sympathies to you, your wife and Roger's wife. (I have only positive things to say about the NHS which, inter alia, saved my life but that is b.... all consolation to you and your family.) There's not a lot more one can say except to let you know that people are thinking of you.

Richard de Pesando MA(RCA) said...

I'm really sorry to read this.

My mother suffered 25 years of mental and physical illness and the last few years of her life were wretched, so I have quite a lot of experience of the NHS - clinical and phsyciatric, some very good and much very bad.

In retrospect the last couple of months when we were able to wrestle some control back over her life were the best for her (and us) gave us the chance to make up for some of the damage done, but it wasn't easy.

Your F.I.L sounds like one of the most interesting people I've come across in years - you must be really proud of him.

Unknown said...

Thinking of you today. The end of life is always sad, no matter the circumstances.

Unknown said...


My thoughts are with you and your family.

Steerforth said...

Thank you everyone for your kind words.

Anonymous said...

I think its important to write the real, and the moving, as well as the humour and everyday. Well done on writing this, my heart went out to your family.
We've also had some hard experiences with the nhs, and my mum, I think was also starved of oxygen, or at least something went very wrong. She has not been who she was before for a number of years.
The important thing is to remember who cool and quirky and important people are/were, as you have with your father in law.

John Self said...

Well I was just thinking of amusing things to post in response as I read as far as the photo of Rog and the Second Mrs Rog (couldn't they have taken the stickers off the lampshades before posing for the photo?), but what came next made me almost fall off my chair.

I'm sorry for your loss - though it's late for one, and too soon for the other.

Men, I think, strive to approach bad news with practical responses, so with my lawyer's hat on let me fill you in on the legal position in the UK with respect to medical negligence. It is very hard to prove, because of the progress of case law by the higher courts which basically didn't like people suing doctors.

An example. I have a case at present involving a man who died of bowel cancer (well, it started off as bowel cancer and then became what Kurt Vonnegut would have called cancer of the everything). His cancer was diagnosed a year late, after a barium enema was carried out but the tumour showing on it was missed by the radiologist. A hands-up job, you might think.

But no. Medical negligence can only be established if it can be shown that the actions taken by the doctor would not have been undertaken by any reasonable body of medical opinion. Our expert told us that studies show that at least 20% of tumours are missed on barium enema films as a matter of regular occurrence - so, because doctors miss tumours frequently, that becomes a 'normal' course of medical treatment and therefore it is not negligent to miss a tumour.

We are in Catch-22 territory here. But the human costs is terrible. Not lease because his widow, who has been tied up and emotionally invested in this litigation for the last 5 years, cannot grieve and move on until she has seen the case through which she promised her husband she would before he died.

So in summary: the enquiry will probably provide all sorts of emollient statements from the NHS Trust, but will it change a damn thing? Will it bollocks.

Steerforth said...

Thanks for this, John.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

What a dreadful end to an otherwise charmed life - I am so sorry to hear of your family's anguish Steerforth. And your father's experience sounds no less ghastly.

I for one am doing my best to stay out of hospitals, but it is truly sad that we cannot rely on them to be humane, competant places in the 21st century - even if some are short of resources. What really riles me is how money can always be found for NEW hospitals but never enough money to keep the existing ones in tip-top shape with tip-top care going on within.

My thoughts are with you at this time.

Gonçalo Veiga said...

Im sorry for both your losses...

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Steerforth (as we Irish say), I am sorry for your trouble.

He sounds like he was the ultimate cool father-in-law. I thought it a shame you took down the original posting as it was so honest and beautifully written, if shocking as well, though I understand you might have had some family wishes to respect re this too.

Then again, I think what happened to him (and your own father too) should be highlighted and even publicised, if only to lessen the likelihood of such incompetant outrages happening to other people.

But I understand that grief and peoples' feelings are raw and thus paramount for now.