‘She Didn’t Die in Vain’ – Martha’s Rule to Trigger Cultural Change in Hospitals

The tragic and “preventable” death of a 13-year-old girl has sparked a new rule to be rolled out through UK hospitals that gives parents more power to challenge their doctors if they feel something is not quite right.

NHS to Implement “Martha’s Rule” 

The NHS is set to introduce “Martha’s Rule” to hospitals in the UK in an attempt to grant families second opinions from senior doctors if they feel they need to. Named after Martha Mills, a 13-year-old who tragically passed away in 2021 after a pancreatic injury from falling off her bike worsened over time.

Doctors failed to intensify her care despite her parents expressing concerns, leading to her untimely death from sepsis shock, which doctors didn’t identify despite her health deteriorating.

A coroner reported that if doctors had known about Martha’s sepsis, then her life could’ve been saved. Instead, she died in King’s Hospital in London, despite her parents desperately warning doctors of her health.

An Avoidable Death

According to reports, doctors knew that Martha was suffering from sepsis, a serious condition, days before she died but failed to tell her parents, who were gravely concerned about the daughter’s wellbeing. 

Martha’s Rule will be introduced into over 100 hospitals across the UK as soon as April, after a campaign from Martha Mills’ mother, a medical professional who came up with the rule.

Merope Mills and Paul Laity, Martha’s parents, expressed gratitude for the rule, hopeful that it would prevent other families from enduring the heartbreak they experienced.

Ms Mills and Mr Laity hope that the rule will “prevent what happened to our daughter from happening to other patients,” showing their commitment to helping others after their daughter’s passing. 

NHS Chief Executive Acknowledges Life-Saving Potential

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, recognised the life-saving potential of “Martha’s Rule,” claiming that she fought to introduce the law as soon as she heard Martha’s parents’ “heartbreaking” story. Pritchard asserted she has “no doubt” about the “potential” of Martha’s Rule and that it “can save many lives in the future.”

“Hearing about the heartbreaking loss of Martha and the experiences of her family has had a major impact for people right across the country,” Pritchard revealed.

Pritchard took a moment to thank Martha’s parents, Merope and Paul, “for their extraordinary campaigning and collaboration on this hugely important issue.”

Acknowledging Busy Clinics Fail to Listen to Parents

Martha’s parents learned through their experience that in busy clinics, such as the one in King’s Hospital, the family by the bedside gets to understand the changes in the patient’s condition before doctors and nurses.

“In cases of deterioration, families and carers by the bedside can be aware of changes busy clinicians can’t. Their knowledge should be treated as a resource,” the parents said in a statement. 

Martha’s parents argue that doctors in the current culture do not appreciate being challenged by parents, so they wish to “alter medical culture” by giving “patients a little more power.”

Ms Mills and Mr Laity “encourage listening on the part of medical professionals, and to normalise the idea that even the grandest of doctors should welcome being challenged.”

A Tribute to Martha

According to her parents, Martha was “ambitious” and “determined.” They expressed deep sadness in not knowing what things she could’ve achieved in her life. Despite what they describe as a “preventable” death, Martha’s Rule, according to the parents, “will mean that she didn’t die completely in vain.”

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins paid tribute to Martha’s parents and how they “worked tirelessly” to implement Martha’s Rule into the healthcare system.

With Martha’s Rule set to be put in place in 100 hospitals as of April 2024, it’s a step in the right direction. However, it’s still a concern that tragedy must strike before potentially lifesaving lessons are learned.

The post ‘She Didn’t Die in Vain’ – Martha’s Rule to Trigger Cultural Change in Hospitals first appeared on Pulse365 Limited.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / chrisdorney.

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