Woman Dies After Drinking Too Much Water In Hospital

More than two years after a mother-of-two tragically lost her life while under the care of Millbrook Mental Health Unit in Sutton-in-Ashfield, England, a recent inquest into her untimely death has revealed that she died from excessive water intake.

Michelle Whitehead, aged 45, was admitted to the Millbrook Mental Health Unit in May 2021 after she had a mental health breakdown. She reportedly began drinking excessive amounts of water during her stay, ultimately slipping into a coma due to dangerously low sodium levels, which caused her brain to swell.

Now, her husband of 22 years, Michael Whitehead, is holding the health facility responsible for his wife’s death, as he maintains that her life could have been saved if the staff had acted promptly.

“Had they acted earlier Michelle would have been taken to ICU and put on a drip. That would have saved her life. By the time they realized what was happening, the same course of action was far too late,” he stated.

One issue that emerged from the investigation is the facility’s failure to diagnose Michelle with psychogenic polydipsia, a psychiatric disorder characterized by excessive water consumption. Despite her condition, Michelle was allowed to have unrestricted access to water in her room.

According to reports, staff members administered tranquilizers to help her sleep. However, she fell asleep all while they assumed she was sleeping as they were reportedly distracted by their phones. It was not until four hours later that they realized she was not just sleeping.

She was subsequently transferred to King’s Mill Hospital, where she succumbed to the effects of low sodium levels.

The Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which houses the Millbrook Mental Health Unit, acknowledged significant failures in Michelle’s care. The lapses the management admitted to include inadequate monitoring, staff distractions due to personal mobile phone use (which was prohibited on the ward), discontinuing monitoring too soon after tranquilization, and a delay in the arrival of the duty doctor and paramedics.

According to the findings of the investigation into Michelle Whitehead’s death, the mental health unit’s shortcomings “probably more than minimally” contributed to her tragic demise. In light of these findings, Ifti Majid, the CEO of Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, issued an apology to the grieving 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,” he said in a statement.

He added, “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.”