Dad dies after rare complication with routine biopsy

PUBLISHED: 17:05 28 June 2012

Weston Hospital.

Weston Hospital.


A PATIENT died following a ‘routine’ operation at Weston General Hospital, an inquest was told.

Bleadon’s Ronald Shute, aged 74, died on January 19 last year, after suffering major internal bleeding following a liver biopsy procedure at the hospital in Uphill.

His son Gary, aged 52, told Flax Bourton Coroners Court on Thursday that Mr Shute was a keen cyclist and had been fit and well up until the end of 2009, when his health began to deteriorate.

Mr Shute began to lose weight, developed shortness of breath and required heart surgery in May 2010, before he was diagnosed with a lymphoma which required a biopsy to see if the cancer had spread.

Dr Christopher Cook, consultant interventional radiologist at the hospital, said the risks of the procedure were explained to the family, after Mr Shute’s family complained they were not fully aware that death was a possibility.

Dr Cook said he had carried out about 500 biopsies during his career and never had a fatality. Medical evidence suggests death rates are roughly one in every 1,000.

He said the operation was successful but Mr Shute’s condition took a turn for the worse and he died five hours after surgery.

Dr Cook and his colleague Reuben West, who was on-call at the time, were questioned by the family’s lawyer Jonathan Peacock, as to what care Mr Shute received following his operation.

Mr West, a consultant surgeon, said he took Mr Shute to theatre for a second operation as his condition worsened, but the 74-year-old died before the procedure could start.

Deputy coroner Terrence Moore recorded a narrative verdict after hearing medical evidence and accounts from doctors.

He said: “One has to accept that there’s always a possibility that something might go wrong, so unless it [death] is a real possibility it is not mentioned, and so I can see why it wasn’t. Studies show it is a very rare occurrence.

“Mr Shute died as a result of a rare but recognised complication of a liver biopsy which was performed following a significant deterioration in his condition, to investigate a possible progression of the lymphoma from which he suffered.”

Mr Moore added that the internal bleeding caused by the biopsy had led to a haemorrhage and agreed with the postmortem that the lymphoma was a contributory factor.

Mr Shute, a retired personnel manager, was married to Janet for 52 years and the pair had two children – Gary and Nicola, aged 49. He lived with his wife in Brockley Crescent.

Following the verdict, Gary said: “We had been told the biopsy would be straight forward and dad would be out of hospital the same day. But when he was on the recovery ward he said to my mum he was bleeding where the sample had been taken and was very shivery.

“We were just all in a complete state of shock. We were never told the biopsy could be fatal.”

A Weston Area Health Trust spokesman said: “The trust accepts the coroner’s verdict and repeats the condolences to Mr Shute’s family.”

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