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27th Nov 2023

Woman dies after drinking too much water

Callum Boyle

drinking too much water

Staff took four hours to realise the mum-of-two was in a coma

A British woman has died after drinking too much water.

Michelle Whitehead, 45, was admitted to a mental health facility in May, 2021, but never left.

After arriving at the Nottinghamshire-based unit in the UK, Whitehead reportedly began to drink water excessively before ending up in a coma.

It took staff four hours to realise that Michelle was in a coma, after an inquest jury were allegedly told they thought she was asleep at first.

Two years on from the 45-year-old’s passing, an investigation into her death has determined that her excessive water consumption was due to psychogenic polydipsia – which was missed by the hospital staff.

BBC News said that the condition is common with patients with psychiatric disorders.

By being unaware of the condition, the excessive drinking allowed Whithead to become acutely over-hydrated, leading to severely low sodium levels causing swelling in the brain, according to the inquest.

This then started to have an impact on Michelle’s brain, fatally injuring it.

Michelle’s husband of 22 years, Michael Whitehead, argued that had her coma been detected earlier, there’s a chance she’d still be here.

“When Michelle [seemingly] fell asleep, staff should have realised something was very wrong,” he told BBC News.

“Had they acted earlier Michelle would have been taken to ICU [intensive care unit] and put on a drip. That would have saved her life.”

He added: “By the time they realised what was happening, the same course of action was far too late.”

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