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Inquest Finds Birmingham Woman's Gallstone Op Death Result Of A Complication Following An Elective Procedure

Organ failure following gallstone operation


An inquest into the death of a 56 year-old Birmingham woman, who died from multiple organ failure following a routine gallstone operation, has returned a verdict that Barbara Anne Dockery died from a complication following an elective procedure performed on 19th June 2008.

The half day inquest before a Birmingham Coroner, Mr Ball, heard how Mrs Barbara Dockery from New Oscott, Sutton Coldfield, died 22 days after key hole surgery performed by gastroenterologist, Dr Mohammed Ahmed.

Mrs Dockery was initially admitted, as a private patient, to Spire Hospital Little Aston, on 18th June 2008, under Dr Ahmed’s care.

However, she was then informed that as the ERCP procedure to remove gallstones was not undertaken at Little Aston Hospital, she was to be transferred to neighbouring NHS-run Good Hope Hospital for surgery by Dr Ahmed. Following the procedure, the plan was for Mrs Dockery to be transferred back to Little Aston Hospital to rest for the night, before being discharged home the following morning.

Mrs Dockery was transferred back to Little Aston at around 5pm that day, despite the fact that she was very unwell following the procedure and had vomited on a number of occasions. Dr Ahmed briefly visited Mrs Dockery at around 7.30pm to administer painkillers.

The following day her condition deteriorated further.  Her husband became increasingly concerned about her and requested that she be reviewed by a doctor urgently.

Dr Ahmed attended at approximately 10:00am and suspected pancreatitis in view of her condition and seriously elevated amylase. Barbara was not reviewed by Dr Ahmed again until 1:00pm that afternoon despite the fact that he suspected pancreatitis and was fully aware that she was unwell.  A surgeon noted the condition and attempted fluid therapy but she was not transferred to Good Hope until 8:00pm at which point aggressive therapy was commenced. .

The following day, Mrs Dockery’s family were informed that she was going into multi-organ failure and, on Sunday 22nd June, she was transferred to the intensive care unit and placed on a ventilator.

Over the course of the next 17 days, clinical staff worked to stabilise Mrs Dockery’s condition but, on 9th July, her family was told that nothing more could be done and she was removed from the ventilator.

Barbara Dockery died the following day on Thursday 10th July 2008.

The 56 year old, Personal Training Manager, who had worked for logistics firm Kuehne and Nagel in Minworth, leaves behind a 26 year old daughter and Terence, her husband, aged 52.

Following the inquest, Mr Dockery commented: "Barbara was such a fit and healthy woman. She really enjoyed her job with Kuehne and Nagel, which took her all over Europe, and she had such a love of life.

"I still can’t come to terms with what happened. We were told this was going to be a routine surgical procedure and she would be back home the following day.

"Instead, I had to watch helplessly as my wife's condition deteriorated literally in front of my eyes. I am both angry and horrified at the length of time that elapsed before she was finally readmitted to Good Hope hospital.

"It was obvious to me that Barbara was seriously ill but no-one seemed to take my concerns seriously until it was too late. I continue to have very serious concerns about the treatment that Barbara received"

Mandy Luckman, a medical negligence expert with the Birmingham office of Irwin Mitchell solicitors, said: "The inquest leaves many of the questions relating to Barbara’s death unanswered and serious concerns remain regarding the standards of post-operative care.

"There are questions about the provision Dr Ahmed had made for the monitoring of his patient, having arranged for her to be transferred back to Little Aston private hospital.

"The results of Barbara’s blood tests showed her amylase levels were 28 times higher than normal, indicating that she was suffering from acute post-operative pancreatitis. Such a high reading should have rung alarm bells but they were not acted upon soon enough.

"Notwithstanding this apparent lack of post-surgical care by Dr Ahmed, Barbara’s condition should nevertheless have been constantly monitored by other clinical staff at Little Aston Hospital. Her deteriorating health and the very real concerns which were raised time and again by her husband, should have rung alarm bells far earlier.

"Following today’s verdict, the family has instructed Irwin Mitchell to proceed with a civil action against Dr Ahmed and Spire Hospital Little Aston."