Inquest verdict delivered regarding death of Birmingham woman following surgery

Surgery At Birmingham Women's Hospital

21.02.2007

An inquest was held today, Wednesday 21st February, at the Coroners Court in Newton Street, Birmingham, into the death of 40-year-old Mrs Caroline Everton from Kings Heath, who died from post-operative complications following surgery to reverse a colostomy.

Assistant Deputy Coroner, Ms Sally Scanlon, heard that Mrs Everton required the colostomy reversal because she had undergone surgery for endometriosis at Birmingham Womens Hospital two years earlier, which went badly wrong when a surgeon perforated her bowel by mistake.

Ms Scanlon returned a narrative verdict as follows: Mrs Caroline Everton died as a result of recognised complications that developed following elective surgery for a colostomy closure which she had sustained two years earlier.

Mother of two, Mrs Everton, died on 4th July 2006 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham. The causes of death on the death certificate are listed as:

  • 1a brain stem haemorrhage
  • 1b hypoxic cerebral damage
  • 1c ARDS - adult respiratory distress syndrome
  • 1d following closure of colostomy

Mrs Everton was initially referred with suspected endometriosis by her GP in September 2003. After further investigation it was discovered the endometriosis was sited in the pelvic wall between the left ovary and bowel.

On 3rd July 2004 Mrs Everton was admitted to the Birmingham Womens Hospital for a laparoscopic excision of the endometriosis and it was during this procedure that her bowel was perforated. Three days later the error was detected and she was transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for the damage to be repaired.

However over the course of the next ten days Mrs Everton's condition continued to deteriorate. She developed multi-organ failure, septic shock and suffered a cardiac arrest requiring cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

On 16th July 2004, further surgical investigation revealed a second hole in the colon. Mrs Everton underwent a colostomy and spent 17 days in intensive care, before finally being discharged home on 1st September 2004.

On 20th June 2006, Mrs Everton returned to the QE Hospital to undergo a colostomy reversal. However she suffered post-operative complications and died on 4th July 2006.

Tim Deeming, a solicitor with the Birmingham office of national law firm, Irwin Mitchell, explained: In November 2004 Caroline instructed me to launch a civil action against Birmingham Womens Healthcare Trust and, prior to her sad death, we had already received judgment in our favour.

If the initial surgery had been carried out correctly, Caroline would not have required a colostomy and subsequent reversal, which resulted in such a tragic and fatal outcome, continues Tim. Whilst today's inquest established the facts surrounding Carolines death, the legal action which Caroline herself began is ongoing.

In June 2006 judgment was entered against Birmingham Womens Healthcare NHS Trust in Mrs Everton's favour in relation to the perforation of her bowel. Subsequently judgement was entered against Birmingham Womens Healthcare NHS Trust in January 2007 relating to Carolines death. The trial to establish damages is scheduled for later this year. We very much hope the defendants will agree settlement for damages as quickly as possible to spare the family any further suffering.

Widower Mr Anthony Everton, aged 41, commented: Caroline was very angry with the treatment she received at Birmingham Womens Hospital and was determined to fight for justice. The entire family has been completely devastated by her death and in particular it has been very hard for our children to come to terms with.

The inquest today provided us with some answers as to why this happened, and now we can somehow try to move forward with our lives.