Hernia op at Croydon University Hospital leads to care officer's death

The inquest into Elaine Davenport's death was held at Croydon Coroner's Court

The inquest into Elaine Davenport's death was held at Croydon Coroner's Court

First published in Local news

A 61-year-old woman died after surgery on her hernia, an inquest heard.

Elaine Davenport underwent the operation in May 2010 after suffering from abdominal pains which were affecting her quality of life.

The retired care officer from Longmans Avenue, Coulsdon had initially been advised by a research registrar at Croydon University Hospital to have a laparotomy – or open surgery.

But just before her operation on May 25, 2010 this was changed to a laproscopic, or keyhole, surgery.

Croydon Coroner’s Court heard yesterday (THURS) how the registrar who made the original plan was not an expert in this field.

Giving evidence Mr Robert Swift, a consultant surgeon at the hospital, said the risks associated with both procedures were the same.

He said: “It improves the outcome but does not improve the risk.”

Asked if he was concerned about performing the operation on Mrs Davenport, who had a history of abdominal problems, he replied: “You go into an operation understanding it is going to be difficult but if you have done the training that is what you are there to do.”

Mr Swift said there were no signs of problems during the operation but Mrs Davenport complained of abdominal pain after the procedure.

Pain is often felt due to a residue of gas in the abdomen following surgery, Mr Swift said.

He added: “If 24 hours afterwards the patient is not sitting up reading the paper you have to consider something is not quite right.”

Mrs Davenport was taken back into surgery where it was discovered she had two small perforations in her small bowel.

Mr Swift said it was unlikely the bowel would have been cut during the first procedure, as this would have produced a highly noticeable purple liquid akin to “a Victorian ruff”.

Instead, he said he believed the damage was caused by small burns which would then have torn causing the holes.

Sadly, Mrs Davenport’s condition deteriorated rapidly as her organs shut down at a speed which was unexpected, according to Mr Swift.

He said: “The sepsis was accelerating at an unusual rate.

“The rapidity of the reaction you do not see like that very often.”

Mrs Davenport died from cardiac arrest on May 28.

Dr Roy Palmer recorded a verdict of death from complications during a necessary medical procedure.

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