There's no excuse for sloppy care, especially of epilepsy patients, when seizure-control guidelines are set in stone. Yet the report of the National Sentinel Clinical Audit of Epilepsy-Related Death says poorly managed care of epilepsy patients may have led to a number of deaths that could have been avoided if proper procedures had been followed.
After taking a close look at epilepsy-related deaths over three years, the audit says that overall care was 'deficient' in 57 per cent of 2412 cases. There was poor access to specialist care, and a lack of appropriate hospital investigations and sticking to published care guidelines. To top it all, there was inadequate drug management.
Jane Hanna is director of the Epilepsy Bereaved, the charity which prompted the report - a joint project by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the chief medical officer. She maintains that there is an overwhelming lack of awareness among the medical profession of sudden, unexpected death in people with chronic epilepsy (BMJ, 2002; 324: 1237; Epilepsy Bereaved at: www.sudep.org).