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This article was published in December 2012. The information may be out of date. Please check our epilepsy information or our site A-Z.

Nursing failure and a seizure-related death

17 Dec 2012

female patient sitting on hospital bedTwo nurses – Caroline O’Rourke and Mary Subaste – face being struck off after a patient with epilepsy died under their care. The UK’s Nursing and Midwifery Council panel recently found that their fitness to practice was impaired.

Lassania Aslam, 17, experienced five seizures within 24 hours, with one lasting six minutes in total. She was admitted to The Whittington Hospital, North London with a fever and vomiting on March 26, 2007.  

Subaste had witnessed two of the seizures, but failed to ensure that neurological observations were made. Lassania Aslam died four days later and hospital neglect was listed as contributing to her death.

two nurses smillingPanel chair Michael Cann spoke about the decision. He said: “The failure to ensure neurological observations were undertaken and recorded was a breach of duty of care serious enough to constitute misconduct.

“Every patient must be monitored and observed. This requirement is so basic that every nurse should be aware of it.”

It is crucial that observations are made, otherwise it will not be clear what action is needed for the patient. Nurses must be aware if a patient is getting better, or getting worse. Mr Cann says: “Not doing so makes it impossible to accurately assess and make decisions on whether to call for medical intervention.”

Both nurses admitted that they failed in the care of Lassania Aslam in the days before her death on April 1, 2007. O’Rourke says that, given the chance, she would do everything differently.

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