Woman, 45, dies from brain swelling after drinking too much water
A tragic incident claimed the life of Michelle Whitehead, a 45-year-old woman who passed away due to brain swelling caused by excessive water intake.
The incident occurred just two days after Michelle was admitted to the Millbrook Mental Health Unit in Nottinghamshire, England, for treatment following a mental breakdown.
Michelle suffered from psychogenic polydipsia, a condition characterized by voluntary and excessive water intake, commonly observed in individuals with psychiatric or neurodevelopmental disorders.
Her husband, Michael Whitehead, accused the health facility of failing to diagnose her with this condition, allowing her unsupervised access to water in her room.
“Had they acted earlier Michelle would have been taken to ICU and put on a drip. That would have saved her life,” Michelle’s husband, said.
Tragically, the staff at the facility allegedly administered tranquilizers to help Michelle sleep, and she slipped into a coma.
The hospital staff’s distractions, including mobile phones, reportedly impeded the quality of care provided to Michelle. The facility did not realize her deteriorating condition until four hours later.
An investigation into Michelle’s death revealed eight failings on the part of the hospital staff, which “probably more than minimally” contributed to her untimely demise.
The coroner overseeing the case emphasized the need for the mental health unit to improve its ability to detect psychogenic polydipsia and prevent similar tragedies in the future.
Michelle’s husband described her as “warm, caring, and easy to love.”
The couple were childhood sweethearts who had been together for 30 years. They raised two sons, one of whom had Down syndrome.
Michelle dedicated 19 years of her life to caring for her disabled son, sacrificing her career as a nursery nurse.
The CEO of Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Ifti Majid, issued an apology to the grieving family and acknowledged the lapses in Michelle’s care.
He stated that they would address the concerns raised so that patients now and in the future would receive improved care.