Infection from operation led to pensioner’s death

A PENSIONER died after catching a nasty bug after an operation at the DGH.

Audrey Cox was 80 when she died on June 26 last year after a wound left from a routine operation to fix a broken hip became infected.

An inquest into her death held at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court last week looked at evidence from 17 witnesses as the coroner tried to piece together exactly how Mrs Cox came to lose her life.

The upshot of the hour-long hearing was that although there was no way of possibly knowing for sure where the bacteria came from, it was almost certain that it got into Mrs Cox’s body through the wound.

Mrs Cox’s GP, Dr Sturgess, told the inquest that a district nurse had reported the wound as “quite offensive” and “unlike anything he had seen before”.

The 80-year-old’s daughter Angela Weston revealed that her mum had initially broken the neck of her femur after falling outside St Bede’s School in April last year.

Having seen her mum sent home after a subsequent op, she said that she and her family did have concerns about her wound.

As a result of those concerns, Mrs Cox returned to hospital where attempts to treat the infection proved unsuccessful and doctors took the difficult decision to begin palliative, or end of life, care.

A consultant from the DGH, Mr Skyme, revealed that the only way to completely get rid of the infection would have been to take out the recently-fitted prosthetic hip because by that stage it would have been “colonised” by the bug.

However, there would have likely been at least an eight-week wait for this second operation.

Appropriate antibiotics were trialled, but ultimately once the decision not to repeat the op was taken, it became increasingly more likely that Mrs Cox would lose her life.

Mr Skyme told the inquest, “It was a very bad bug.

“Something like MRSA would have been easier to treat.

“It would have almost certainly come in through the wound.”

He also added that the infection could have come from pretty much anywhere and that the bacteria would already be present on a lot of people.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, coroner Alan Craze traced the cause back to the initial fall.

He said, “Without the fall there would have been no operation and no infection and she probably would still be with us today.”