A coroner has ruled that a spilled cup of tea did not contribute to the death of a “gravely ill” elderly woman.
Margaret Young, a retired nurse, was a resident at the Beechcroft Manor Nursing Home in Gosport, Hampshire, when the cup of tea brought by staff aid Bestman Owhondah was accidentally spilled on to her while she was lying in bed on June 12 last year.
The inquest at Portsmouth heard that her husband, Peter Young, 83, was informed by Mr Owhondah of the accident and had seen a wound had been dressed by nurses.
The hearing was told that Mrs Young, 73, was in the final stages of life and had originally been admitted to the nursing home in June 2011 after suffering a fall.
But when the couple’s daughter, Janet Young, visited on June 17 she discovered that the wound was in an “horrendous” state and after a doctor examined her mother, she was taken to the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, where she died on June 20.
Ms Young said: “I want to know what happened, why she had to go like that, it’s a good home that’s why we picked it, I just want to know why.”
Mr Young, a retired engineer, said: “I do not think it was done on purpose, it was an accident, what happened afterwards is what I criticise.”
But Karen Harrold, assistant deputy coroner for Portsmouth and south east Hampshire, ruled that the wound on Mrs Young’s abdomen was most likely to have been caused by cellulitis and not the spilled tea.
She said: “On balance, I have concluded that the area of redness on Maggie’s abdomen was cellulitis not a thermal injury caused by the accidental spillage of hot tea during the evening tea round.”
But she did criticise “communication issues” between nursing staff and doctors and “inadequate documentation” but added that these would not have changed the treatment provided.
She added that an internal review had been carried out to address these problems.
The coroner said: “On balance therefore I have concluded that there was not a gross failure to provide basic medical attention and in addition, if different action or treatment had been taken such as hospitalisation there is no clear evidence that Maggie would have survived or that her life would have been prolonged.”
She ruled that Mrs Young died of sepsis caused by cellulitis and a kidney failure with significant contributory factors of ischaemic heart disease, pneumonia and obesity.
The coroner read out a statement on behalf of Ms Young: “My mother was a very kind and gentle special person I had the pleasure to know 48 years of my life and (I’m) finding it difficult to accept how she slipped from mine and my father’s life the way she did.
“My thoughts are with my father today and hope the conclusion gives us some closure so my mum can rest in peace now. I love her and miss her dearly.”
Lincoln Brookes, representing Beechcroft Manor, told the inquest that Mrs Young had been given the appropriate treatment.
Detective Inspector Scott MacKechnie, of Hampshire police, who investigated the death, told the inquest that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.
A spokesman for Beechcroft Manor Nursing Home said: “Maggie was a much-loved resident at the home for over a year. Staff and residents were deeply saddened when she died.
“The coroner has concluded that Maggie’s death was not caused by any failures in care or any scald and has further concluded that, due to her underlying poor health, no alternative treatment would have changed this outcome.
“The home has worked closely with all of the appropriate authorities over the past year and has introduced new policies to improve communications, particularly during handover periods and when consulting with GPs. We have also introduced a new wound management plan, further training and internal and external audits to ensure standards are consistently maintained.
“Our thoughts are with Maggie’s family at this difficult time.”
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