Coroner Hears Mum Of Two ‘May Have Survived’ With Earlier Treatment


1 June 2012

A 38-year-old mother of two who died due to multi-organ failure caused by blood poisoning may have lived if doctors had acted quicker, an inquest at Leeds Coroner’s Court heard today.

Her mother has now joined medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell representing her in seeking assurances from Pinderfields Hospital that lessons have been learnt to prevent similar incidents in future.

Tracy Hall, of Castleford, died on 12 May 2009 at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield. Mary Burke, HM Assistant Deputy Coroner for Leeds, recorded a narrative verdict saying Tracy died due to multi organ failure caused by septicaemia, or blood poisoning and small bowel death. 

Leeds Coroner’s Court heard that Tracy had suffered from Crohn’s disease, a condition which causes the chronic inflammation of the digestive system. She underwent surgery on 28 April 2009 to repair scarring to her abdomen but it did not heal as expected and she spent several days in hospital as Doctors tried to find the source of her problems.

The court heard evidence from independent medical expert Professor Northover, who said that doctors treating Tracy on 4 May 2009 at Pinderfields Hospital could have acted quicker by carrying out blood tests to help diagnose her condition. The tests would have backed up a scan which showed Tracy was suffering from internal bleeding and, therefore, further surgery was needed.

Speaking after the inquest, Tracy’s mother Carol Harris, of Castleford, said: “We are really grateful to the coroner for conducting such a detailed investigation into Tracy’s death. She was a much loved daughter and a devoted mother to her two children and we all are absolutely devastated about her death.

“I knew something untoward had gone wrong during Tracy’s surgery and I pleaded with surgeons to investigate her condition more thoroughly.

“To discover more could have been done to save her is heartbreaking and I don’t think I, or the rest of her family, will ever get over it.”

Anna Bosley, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell, representing Ms Harris, added: “The family desperately needed answers as they believed more could have been done in Tracy’s care. The inquest has highlighted that further tests could have been carried out earlier to help diagnose her condition and earlier treatment may have led to her surviving.

“Incidents such as this highlight important lessons which need to be taken on board and we hope that Pinderfields Hospital ensures that others do not suffer from similar circumstances in future.  Patient safety should be the number one priority for the NHS but it appears that sadly, Tracy was let down on this occasion.”

Tracy had suffered from Crohn’s disease, a condition which causes the chronic inflammation of the digestive system. She underwent surgery in 2008, where it was discovered she required a colostomy bag to control the damage caused to her large intestine.

On 28 April 2009, Tracy was admitted to Pinderfields Hospital to allow doctors to reverse the procedure and to carry out some reconstructive surgery on the scarring to her abdomen. Over the next few days doctors observed that Tracy was not healing as well as anticipated and was taken into surgery to investigate the wound.

Tracy’s abdominal wound split on 4 May and she was again taken back to surgery. Doctors could not find any evidence of septicaemia or bleeding and Tracy was admitted to the high dependency ward as a precaution.

A day later, Tracy’s blood results showed abnormalities and she was given a blood transfusion. A scan showed internal bleeding and she was taken back to theatre for further investigations. No signs of septicaemia were discovered and she was admitted to intensive care.

During the next few days, Tracy’s condition deteriorated rapidly and sadly she developed septicaemia and died on 12 May.