Mom of two d!es from brain swelling after drinking too much water

Mother of two suffers from brain swelling after drinking too much water

A mother of two died from drinking too much water and her husband blames the health facility.

Michelle Whitehead, a 45-year-old woman from England, was taken to Millbrook Mental Health Unit in Nottinghamshire on May 5, 2021, after suffering a mental breakdown, the BBC reported.
She died two days later after drinking too much water and falling into a coma, something the team discovered too late, he said.

“If they had acted sooner, Michelle would have been taken to the ICU and put on an IV. This would have saved her life,” said Michael Whitehead, Michelle’s husband of 22 years.

Whitehead had a condition called psychogenic polydipsia, which “is characterized by excessive volitional water intake and is often seen in patients with psychiatric disorders and/or neurodevelopmental disorders.”

Staff at the facility did not diagnose Whitehead with psychogenic polydipsia at the time, her husband claimed, and she had unsupervised access to water in her room.

An investigation into her death found that hospital staff allegedly gave her tranquilizers to sleep and she fell into a coma, something staff only realized four hours later.

Michelle was transferred to King’s Mill Hospital where she died due to low sodium levels due to excessive water consumption.

The extreme water intake caused brain swelling that ultimately killed her.

The BBC reported that Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust admitted eight failings, including failing to comply with its policy after Michelle was reassured and staff were distracted by their mobile phones.

The investigation concluded that the mental health unit’s failures “probably more than minimally” contributed to his death.

The coroner asked the mental health unit to improve the detection of psychogenic polydipsia in the future to prevent future deaths.

Ifti Majid, CEO of Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, apologized to the family.

“We are considering the findings of the jury and the coroner. We recognize that there were aspects of care that were not of the quality that they should have been and we will address the concerns raised so that patient experience now and in the future is improved,” he told the BBC.

Michelle’s husband remembered her as “warm, caring and easy to love.”

The two were childhood sweethearts. Michael was 17 and Michelle was 15 when he met her on a bus.

“She looked at the records I just bought and I fell in love,” Michael said.

The couple had been together for 30 years and had two children, one of whom had Down syndrome. Michelle cared for her disabled son full-time for 19 years and gave up her job as a daycare nurse to care for him.


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