A 45-year-old woman named Michelle Whitehead tragically passed away due to excessive water consumption while she was staying at the Millbrook Mental Health Unit in Nottinghamshire, England.
The incident took place on May 5, 2021, merely two days after Michelle, who had experienced a mental breakdown, was admitted to the facility.
Michael Whitehead, Michelle’s husband, squarely held the health facility responsible, stating that prompt action could have saved his wife’s life.
“If they had acted earlier, Michelle would have been taken to the ICU and given intravenous fluids. That could have saved her life,” expressed Michelle’s husband.
Michelle suffered from a condition called psychogenic polydipsia, marked by voluntary and excessive water intake, often observed in individuals with psychiatric or neurodevelopmental disorders.
According to Michael, the facility failed to diagnose Michelle with psychogenic polydipsia, allowing her unsupervised access to water in her room.
Tragically, staff allegedly administered tranquilizers to aid her sleep, leading Michelle into a coma.
Reportedly, the facility didn’t realize her deteriorating condition until four hours later.
An investigation into Michelle’s death unveiled that hospital staff departed from their protocol, with distractions like mobile phones affecting the quality of care.
The Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust admitted to eight failings, and the investigation concluded that these lapses “probably more than minimally” contributed to Michelle’s untimely demise.
The overseeing coroner stressed the importance of the mental health unit improving its ability to detect psychogenic polydipsia to prevent similar tragedies.
Ifti Majid, CEO of Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, apologized to the grieving family, acknowledging the lapses in Michelle’s care.
“We are reviewing the jury and coroner’s findings. We recognize that some aspects of care fell short and will address these concerns to enhance patient experiences now and in the future,” Majid conveyed to the BBC.
Michelle Whitehead, described by her husband as “warm, caring, and easy to love,” leaves behind a devastated family.
The couple, childhood sweethearts who met when Michael was 17 and Michelle was 15 on a bus, spent 30 years together, raising two sons, one of whom had Down syndrome.
Michelle devoted 19 years to caring for her disabled son, sacrificing her career as a nursery nurse.