Remaining in hospital may have prevented death, says coroner

First published in News Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A woman from Kings Langley whose health deteriorated after major surgery, may have been discharged from hospital too early, a coroner has ruled.

Jean Young, 71, was admitted to Watford General Hospital to undergo surgery to remove an ovarian cancer tumour on Wednesday, February 15.

Despite a successful operation, Mrs Young died seven days later in intensive care after becoming very poorly.

A post mortem examination, by pathologist Dr Paul Richmand, revealed Mrs Young died from peritonitis, an inflammation of stomach tissue and perforation of caecum, a small hole in part of the intestine caused by an infection.

During the inquest at Hatfield Coroner’s Court yesterday (Thursday), it came to light Mrs Young, who lived in Grosvenor Avenue, may have been discharged just six days after her operation.

After her daughter's growing concern, Mrs Young returned to hospital and underwent another operation, for doctors to determine the cause of her sickness.

From there her health deteriorated and she suffered severe breathing problems. 
Coroner Edward Thomas heard evidence from Dr Malcolm Padwick, the surgeon of the first operation.

Dr Padwick said: “When making the decision to discharge patients, they show signs of eating, being mobile and coping with small tasks including making a meal or going to the toilet.

“I cannot say whether Mrs Young was discharged too early because she showed signs of progression the day after I visited her and she was very keen to go home.”

Mr Thomas concluded Mrs Young death was a result of peritonitis, perforation of caecum and some distress had to be placed on her battle with ovarian cancer.

He also said if Mrs Young had stayed in hospital longer, signs of her further ill health may have been picked up sooner.

Recording a narrative verdict, the coroner added: “If she had been in hospital for the 48 hours that she was at home, the signs of peritonitis may have been picked up because she would have been undergoing regular check-ups.

“Vital damage caused by the peritonitis may not have been sufficient enough to have prevented her recovery, if she had been in hospital.”

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