Woman dies from cerebral edema after drinking too much water
A mother of two died after drinking too much water and her husband is now blaming the medical establishment. What happened, the publication told New York Post.
Michelle Whitehead, 45, from England, was admitted to Millbrook Mental Health Hospital in Nottinghamshire on May 5, 2021, due to a mental disorder.
She died two days later after drinking too much water, after which she fell into a coma, which the staff found out too late.
“If they had taken action earlier, Michelle would have been taken to intensive care and given an IV. “It could have saved her life,” says Michael Whitehead, Michelle’s husband of 22 years.
Whitehead suffered from psychogenic polydipsia, which, as the medical journal BMJ Best Practice explains, "is characterized by excessive volitional water intake and is often found in patients with mental or neurodevelopmental disorders."
According to the husband, Whitehead was not diagnosed with psychogenic polydipsia by facility staff at the time, and she was allowed unsupervised access to water in her room.
During the investigation into Michelle's death, it was established that the clinic's doctors allegedly gave her tranquilizers to make the patient fall asleep, and she fell into a coma, which the medical staff found out about only four hours later.
Michelle was transferred to King's Mill Hospital where she died from low sodium levels caused by drinking too much water.
Excessive water consumption caused swelling of the brain, which ultimately led to death.
Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust admitted eight breaches, including failing to comply with regulations after Michelle was tranquilized and staff being distracted by mobile phones.
The inquest concluded that deficiencies in the psychiatric unit "probably contributed more than minimally" to her death.
A coroner has called for the psychiatric unit to do a better job of identifying psychogenic polydipsia in the future to prevent future deaths.
Ifti Majeed, chief executive of Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, apologized to the family.
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“We are reviewing the findings of the jury and coroner and accept that some aspects of the care were not of the quality that they should have been, so we will address the issues raised to improve the quality of care for patients now and in the future,” he said.
Michelle's husband remembers her as a "warm and caring" person. They were in love with each other since childhood. Michael was 17 years old and Michelle was 15 when he first met her on the bus.
“She looked at the records I had just bought and I fell in love,” Michael admitted.
The couple lived together for 30 years and had two sons, one of whom has Down syndrome. Michelle was a full-time caregiver for her disabled son for 19 years and left her job as a nurse at a day care center to care for him.
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