Surgeons not to blame for routine operation death

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A PENSIONER died following complications during an operation at the DGH – but a coroner ruled the hospital was not at fault.

An inquest at Eastbourne Magistrates Court heard how 90-year-old John Rix died on June 21 last year after DGH surgeons attempted to fit a stent during what was considered a life-prolonging operation.

The retired technical engineer had been given just days to live after advanced cancer began to affect his liver but the operation proved unsuccessful, his condition deteriorated and he died.

Mr Rix lived at The Hawthorns residential home and according to his son Peter, was “active and fit” and listed cricket and painting among his hobbies.

However, his son revealed he has recently lost his lust for life. “Following his move to The Hawthorns,” Mr Rix junior told the inquest, “I do not think he wanted to live any longer.”

Consultants at the DGH said the dangers of the stent procedure were fully explained to Mr Rix prior to the operation, although Mr Rix junior did tell the coroner that as far as they had been lead to believe it was ‘routine’ adding that the subsequent complications had ‘come as a shock to the family’.

However, the family understood the severity of Mr Rix’s situation and that the operation was the only real chance of saving his life – a point confirmed by consultant gastroenterologist Dr Phillip Mayhead.

He told the inquest, “Without the procedure he would have passed away.”

Coroner Alan Craze sympathised with the scenario, describing surgeons as being stuck between a rock and a hard place, on his way to recording a verdict of death by natural causes.

Addressing the Rix family, he said, “Without this advanced cancer this operation would not have been necessary.”