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Mom-of-two dies after drinking too much water
Featured Image Credit: Family handout

Mom-of-two dies after drinking too much water

Michelle Whitehead was just 45 years old

A British mother has died after drinking too much water.

45-year-old Michelle Whitehead was admitted to a mental health unit in May 2021 after suffering a breakdown but sadly never left the facility.

Upon beginning her stay at the Nottinghamshire-based unit in the UK, Michelle is said to have started drinking water excessively and ended up in a coma.

Michelle Whitehead died in May 2021.
Family handout

But staff took four hours to realise the mom-of-two was in a coma, having initially believed she was just asleep, according to an inquest jury.

Over two years on from Michelle's passing, an investigation into her death has determined that her excessive water consumption was due to psychogenic polydipsia, which was apparently missed by hospital staff.

The condition is common with patients with psychiatric disorders, BBC News reports.

As she'd gone undiagnosed, staff had continued to allow Michelle to have unsupervised access to water in her room.

The excessive drinking then led to late 45-year-old becoming acutely over-hydrated, leading to severely low sodium levels causing swelling in the brain, according to the inquest.

This caused Michelle's brain to be fatally injured.

Michelle's husband Michael believes Michelle's death was preventable.
Family handout

She had also been given tranquillisers to calm her down, but she instead fell unconscious.

In the wake of her death, Michelle's husband of 22 years, Michael Whitehead, argued that had her coma been detected earlier, there's a chance she'd still be here.

"When Michelle [seemingly] fell asleep, staff should have realised something was very wrong," he told BBC News.

"Had they acted earlier Michelle would have been taken to ICU [intensive care unit] and put on a drip. That would have saved her life."

Adding: "By the time they realised what was happening, the same course of action was far too late."

He labelled his late wife, whom he met when they were both teenagers, as being 'warm, caring and easy to love'.

Before becoming unwell in 2021, Michelle was a full time carer to their son who has Down's syndrome.

The couple also share another son.

In total, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust admitted to eight failings in the care the mom-of-two received - some of which include staff failing to adhere to the NHS' Trust Policy after Michelle was tranquillized and inadequate monitoring by staff due to being 'distracted by the use of their personal mobile telephones'.

Michelle leaves behind two sons.
Family handout

And, according to evidence given to the inquest, it was believed that a few of the failings had 'probably more than minimally' contributed to Michelle's death.

The trust has issued an apology to the Whitehead family.

"On behalf of the trust, I once again extend our sincerest condolences and apologies to the family and friends of Michelle Whitehead for their loss," Ifti Majid, chief executive of the trust, said in a statement to the BBC.

"We are considering the findings of the jury and the coroner.

"We acknowledge that there were aspects of care which were not of the quality they should have been and will address the concerns raised so that the experience for patients now and in future is improved."

UNILAD has contacted Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust for further comment.

Topics: UK News, News, Health, Mental Health