Hinchingbrooke Hospital criticised for Somersham woman’s death

HOSPITAL bosses have pledged to make changes after doctors were criticised for failing to spot that a routine operation had gone wrong, leading to the death of a mother of two.

Somersham woman Jayne Smith, 51, pictured right, was admitted to Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Huntingdon, for surgery to treat haemorrhoids in September last year, but fell ill from an infection and died eight days later.

Delivering his inquest verdict on Friday, south and west Cambridgeshire coroner David Morris said Mrs Smith had died “from a rare but recognised complication which was not recognised or addressed in a timely manner”.

He criticised doctors for failing to take Mrs Smith back into theatre until the fifth day of her hospital stay, despite reports she was “writhing in agony” and had lost 600ml (more than a pint) of blood.

A post mortem examination found staples used during the operation deep in Mrs Smith’s muscle and that this caused the infection.

The cause of death was given as multi-organ failure caused by an infection and Mr Morris added that, if Mrs Smith had been sent for intensive care earlier, she might have survived.

“If the clinical findings on September 5 [two days into Mrs Smith’s stay] had been more aggressively addressed and more invasive exploration undertaken, it seems certain that the underlying leakage and source of bleeding would have been identified and resolved in a timely manner,” he said.

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Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Smith’s husband Glen, 59, said he was “utterly devastated”. The couple had been married 34 years.

“I still find it impossible to understand that my wife went into hospital for a very simple procedure, so much so that we expected her home the same day, yet because of basic mistakes in her treatment and care, she was left writhing in agony in the days leading up to her death, which was heartbreaking to see and is unbearable to think of now.

“This has been a devastating time for me and my family, and we want reassurances that this will never be allowed to happen to another family ever again.”

Further training and re-skilling of consultant surgeon Raqibul Anwar, who carried out the operation, was recommended in an investigation into the death by the Hinchingbrooke Healthcare NHS Trust in January.

A review of the scoring system in place at the hospital for assessing the severity of a patient’s condition and the risk of deterioration was also recommended.

Jenny Baker, of legal firm Irwin Mitchell, said the family would be taking the case to court.

She said: “Although nothing can bring Jayne back or take away her family’s pain, they deserve a long overdue apology for the systemic failings that led to Jayne’s death, which unbelievably they have still not received, and reassurances that what happened to Jayne can never happen to anyone ever again.”

Dr Richard Dickinson, medical director of the Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust, said: “The trust deeply regrets Mrs Smith’s death and expresses its deepest sympathy to Mr Smith and his family.

“A comprehensive investigation has been completed and lessons will be learned to prevent any possibility of future recurrence.”