Elderly patient died after food blocked windpipe

AN ELDERLY woman who was a patient at the Eastbourne DGH died after food got stuck in her windpipe.

Dorothy Brown was taken to the hospital after falling at Chardwood Rest Home in Pevensey Bay, where she was a resident.

The 92-year-old, who had dislocated her shoulder, was kept in following treatment after it was found she had an urinary infection.

An inquest into her death heard her condition had improved and on the day of her death of March 23 this year she had seemed ‘bright’ and had been chatting to staff.

A post mortem gave her death as asphyxia caused by aspiration of food and gastric content.

Her daughter Josephine Ellis-Jones said in a statement read to the court that she and her husband had seen her mother hours before she took a turn for the worse and suffered a cardiac arrest.

“She said, ‘Have you come to take me home?, she was fine. She was back to her normal self.”

But around an hour-and-a-half later at 6.15pm the family were told to come back to the hospital and she died shortly afterwards.

Staff nurse Andrea Dyer, who was working on the bay in Jevington Ward that Mrs Brown was on, said the patient had seemed bright that day and was holding a conversation.

She added she had seemed quite tired at lunchtime but had perked up by supper, when colleague and health care assistant Kirsty Ansell fed her.

Miss Ansell told the inquest that Mrs Brown wasn’t that hungry and said she would just have soup.

She added that she helped the retired wages clerk to eat about three-quarters of it and that while she ate slowly, she was talking and had enjoyed the food.

She left her around three or four minutes later but when she came back to the ward 10 minutes later she saw the patient slumped in bed and she was unresponsive.

Miss Ansell then called Miss Dyer and they buzzed a rescue bell, prompting a resuscitation team to assist.

Dr James Wilkinson, a consultant physician, gave details to the court on behalf of a colleague.

He explained that the cause of death meant she had regurgitated food from her stomach and it had then gone down the wrong way into the windpipe and blocked off some tubes which, he said, could be enough to stop the heart.

He added that regurgitation can happen to anyone but is more likely in the elderly and there was no sign in this case that it was going to happen.

Recording a verdict of accidental death deputy coroner Joanna Pratt said she was satisfied that the care Mrs Brown was given was appropriate.