Coroner favours hospital in woman's inquest

PUBLISHED: 10:07 05 January 2012

Family question if Faith McLaughlin could have been diagnosed sooner.

Family question if Faith McLaughlin could have been diagnosed sooner.

Irwin Mitchell LLP

DESPITE a husband questioning whether his wife would have survived if her condition had been diagnosed sooner - the coroner ruled in favour of Weston General Hospital.

Faith McLaughlin, aged 60, died in hospital on July 21, 2010, after a prolonged time in intensive care.

Mrs McLaughlin, of Ash Road in Banwell, suffered from back pain and husband Keith told Flax Bourton Coroners Court this week she was petrified of doctors.

He said: “In April I persuaded my wife to see a GP and due to the pain she was in, we went to the A&E ward in Weston General Hospital.”

The court was told after further tests Mrs McLaughlin, who also suffered from Parkinson’s Disease, was so scared she discharged herself but after suffering two falls she was taken back to A&E on May 23 and placed in the Waterside Suite.

Jacqueline Payne, the ward sister of the Waterside suit at Weston General Hospital, told the court from a nursing perspective she had a possible urine infection.

Dr Ben Balogun-Ojuri, of Weston General Hospital, said he had examined her abdomen and there was no pain or tenderness. He said: “I looked like she had a urine infection that had got worse and that is what we had to treat as soon as possible. There was nothing that concerned me in terms of an ulcer.”

Mr McLaughlin, aged 64, told the court his wife had been sick in the night and believed she was losing weight. He said her stomach was swelling and on May 30 she was so swollen she looked ‘six months pregnant’.

He said doctors were then called and he was told she had a burst ulcer and she had to have an operation.

Mr Geoffrey Pye, a general surgeon at the hospital who carried out the first operation, said the condition is hard to spot.

He said: “I didn’t immediately think this was a perforated ulcer. You can’t tell from the outside that something is bad on the inside.

“It is difficult to tell when the perforated ulcer occurred. The changes come on quickly and it would be speculative to judge.

“There was nothing to say it hadn’t been there for a long time but I can’t really say.”

Mrs McLaughlin later had two further operations and after June 17 she was no longer dependent on hospital machines and her stomach was drained.

On July 16 she had a permanent pacemaker fitted and she continued with physiotherapy.

Mr McLaughlin told the court that on July 21 he had a phone call from the hospital to say her condition had deteriorated dramatically and she died at 4.25am.

He said: “Her death seemed peaceful but I feel if Faith had been treated earlier, she may have survived.”

Avon and Somerset Coroner Maria Voisin said she did not find evidence that something could have been done sooner by the doctors.

She gave the verdict: “Mrs McLaughlin was admitted to hospital on May 23, 2010. She under-went surgery on a perforated ulcer on June 1, 2010. Her condition deteriorated and she later died.”

Mr McLaughlin, who was married to Faith for 42 years, said: “For every moment of our marriage we loved each other and looked after each other. Faith was just an angel, if she knew something would make somebody happy she would go out and do it.”

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