Mother Dies from Brain Swelling Due to Excessive Water Consumption

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Michelle Whitehead, a 45-year-old mother of two from England, tragically passed away after drinking excessive amounts of water while being treated at Millbrook Mental Health Unit in Nottinghamshire. 

Her husband, Michael Whitehead, has since raised serious concerns about the care she received, pointing to a failure in the health system.

Michelle was admitted to the mental health facility on May 5, 2021, following a mental breakdown. 

According to her husband, she suffered from psychogenic polydipsia, a condition characterized by excessive voluntary water intake often seen in patients with psychiatric disorders. 

Despite this, staff at the facility reportedly did not diagnose her condition, allowing her unsupervised access to water.

Two days after her admission, Michelle fell into a coma and was later found to have consumed an excessive amount of water. 

Her husband claims that earlier intervention could have saved her life, stating, “Had they acted earlier, Michelle would have been taken to ICU and put on a drip.” 

She was transferred to King’s Mill Hospital, where she died due to brain swelling caused by low sodium levels, a consequence of her extreme water intake.

Healthcare Failures in Mother Tragic Death

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Michelle Whitehead, a 45-year-old mother of two from England, tragically passed away after drinking excessive amounts of water while being treated at Millbrook Mental Health Unit in Nottinghamshire.

An investigation into Michelle’s death revealed several failings at the Millbrook Mental Health Unit. 

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust admitted to eight failures, including staff distractions and not adhering to policies after Michelle was tranquilized. 

The coroner concluded that these failings likely contributed significantly to her death and urged the facility to improve the detection of psychogenic polydipsia to prevent future tragedies.

Michelle’s husband, remembering her as “warm, caring, and easy to love,” shared their poignant story of being together for 30 years and raising two sons, one of whom has Down syndrome. 

Michelle had dedicated her life to caring for her disabled son, sacrificing her career as a nursery nurse.

Ifti Majid, CEO of the Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, apologized to the family and assured them that the Trust addressed the concerns

The aim is to improve patient experiences and care standards to prevent such incidents in the future.

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