Tuesday, 01 December 2015

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Fast decline of patient in west Cumbrian hospital, inquest told

A woman whose death led to an investigation into her care in hospital appeared in “apparently good health” shortly before she died.

West Cumberland Hospital photo

But Dorothy Ross, 75, “lost consciousness very rapidly”, an inquest was told.

Mrs Ross, of Cleator Moor Road in Whitehaven, died at the town’s West Cumberland Hospital following a fall at home.

She died on April 18 last year – the day after fracturing her left hip and wrist. A report highlighted numerous failings by the hospital.

Dr Peter Fismer, an orthopaedic surgeon, gave evidence at the inquest yesterday, in Cockermouth.

He said he had suggested fixing the fracture in her hip with pins and Mrs Ross agreed to this treatment.

Dr Fismer had asked her if she had blacked out when she had the fall but he said she denied this.

On her death, Dr Fismer said: “It appears indeed that Mrs Ross lost consciousness very rapidly from a state of apparently good health.”

The inquest had already heard that before surgery Mrs Ross was taken off a drug called Warfarin, which she had been taking.

She was given treatment in the form of vitamin K followed by the drug Heparin. When delayed blood test results were made available they showed high levels of Heparin in her system and she was taken off it.

Shortly afterwards Mrs Ross suffered a respiratory arrest and died that afternoon.

The inquest also heard from Francine Duncan, pathology manager at the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, which runs the West Cumberland Hospital.

She said both locums working in the lab where the delayed tests were sent were experienced.

Coroner David Roberts said the inquest had heard the sample in this case was marked urgent but this was not passed through to the staff member whose job it was to do the test.

Details of a serious investigation report were given earlier in the inquest by Dr Jeremy Rushmer, medical director of the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust. It highlighted numerous failings by the hospital and made five recommendations for the trust to implement.

The inquest continues.


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