Inquest Reveals Catalogue Of Errors Cost Devoted Wife And Mother Her Life

Coroner Describes 'Wasted Opportunities' To Save Life


THE DISTRAUGHT family of a woman who died ‘in agony’ after simple surgery on haemorrhoids went horribly wrong are calling for hospital bosses to provide assurances that the same thing will not be allowed to happen to any other family ever again.

The call comes after Coroner Mr David Morris today (27 May 2011) said that staff at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire ‘wasted opportunities’ to save 51-year-old Jayne Smiths’ life. He said had they taken steps to address the source of her problems sooner ‘the outcome may have been very different’.

In the eight days after her operation, care worker Jayne lost more than a pint of blood, couldn’t pass urine naturally and was left in excruciating pain - yet medical staff consistently failed to recognise the cause.

Far too late, they discovered Jayne had suffered a perforation to her rectal wall caused by staples used in her surgery, leading her to develop an infection and septic shock causing her death from multiple organ failure on 10 September 2010.

Following their loss, Jayne’s family called on specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell for help in their battle for justice. The firm’s Jenny Baker who is representing the family, said: “It’s hard to believe a woman in generally good health could go into hospital for  simple surgery, only to end up dead because of basic errors that were made in her treatment and care.

“Her family are understandably still in shock to this day to have lost a much loved mother and wife so unexpectedly and are struggling to come to terms with the fact her death could have been avoided, which is almost too much for them to bear.

“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.”

Commenting on his family’s ongoing ordeal as they continue to cope with their devastating loss, Jayne’s distraught husband, 59-year-old Glen Smith, from Huntingdon, describes how he was ‘ utterly devastated’ and “in a state of complete shock” when his wife of 34 years died so unexpectedly.

He said: “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.”

Following an investigation into Jayne’s death by the Hinchingbrooke Healthcare NHS Trust in January 2011, recommendations were made to Hinchingbrooke Hospital including further training and re-skilling of the surgeon who carried out Jayne’s surgery, as well as 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.

Jenny from Irwin Mitchell continues: “Put simply, the investigations carried out into the circumstances surrounding Jayne’s death suggest it could easily have been prevented had basic errors not been made in her treatment and aftercare.

“The health and safety of patients needs to be the number one priority in any hospital, and the family deserve guarantees that these lessons learned will be shared across the NHS so that no other family will ever have to suffer as they have.”