Inquest Finds Complications During Routine Surgery Led To Death Of Pensioner

Medical Law Expert Helps Widower In Battle For Justice


The husband of a woman who died after doctors failed to identify that her bowel had been damaged during an operation to remove a cyst has today spoken of his devastating loss after a Coroner found that her death was caused by blood poisoning following complications during routine surgery.

Joyce Davies died aged 72 two days after her bowel was accidentally perforated during a keyhole operation to remove a potentially cancerous cyst in her pelvis at St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol on 8 September 2011.

Following his tragic loss widower Alan, aged 64, from Southmead, called on medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell to help him in his battle for answers.

Recording a narrative verdict, HM Coroner for Avon, Maria Voisin, said: “Mrs Davies died due to complications following routine surgery.”

Speaking after the inquest today (19 February) at the Coroner’s Court in Flax Bourton his lawyer, Luke Trevorrow, said the Coroners investigations raised concerns about whether Joyce’s death ‘could have been prevented’.

During the inquest, which lasted one day, the Coroner heard that there was a delay in recognising that there was a possible bowel perforation which meant vital time passed before Joyce was sent for emergency surgery resulting in fatal fluids to leak into her blood stream causing a massive heart attack.

Luke Trevorrow, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office, said: “Alan has been left devastated by the loss of his wife and desperately wanted answers as to whether more could have been done to prevent her death.

“The inquest today has gone some way to providing these, but he now understandably wants to see steps taken to so that no other family has to suffer the same loss.

“Keyhole procedures, whilst less invasive than open surgery, can result in perforations and internal organs being damaged due to the nature of working in such a confined space. Doctors must make patients aware of the risks associated with any surgical procedure and ensure staff are trained to recognise the symptoms of any complications that may arise.

“We would now urge University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust to ensure lessons are learnt to prevent the same mistakes from happening again and will continue to support Alan as he looks to further understand the circumstances surrounding his wife’s death.”

After the operation Alan was told the cyst had been removed successfully, but early the next day he received a call from his wife saying that she was feeling very unwell. When he arrived at the hospital around midday he found her faint and nauseous, and her stomach was black.

Despite undergoing tests which highlighted her pulse as weak and very low blood pressure, Joyce was not admitted for further surgery until 4pm.

Alan said: “Waiting for news about Joyce felt like an eternity but eventually a doctor appeared and told me they had found two tears that had caused poisonous fluids to leak around her stomach. They had repaired them but she had lost a lot of blood. There was still hope at that stage that she would survive.

“Sadly my wife’s condition got worse and worse and she died a day later of a heart attack caused by heavy blood loss and blood poisoning. It’s been incredibly hard to come to terms with the fact she died following what was described as a very routine procedure and because it would seem that something could have been done earlier.

“The inquest, although difficult, has answered some of my questions about the care Joyce received. However, nothing can turn back the clock and I can only hope lessons are learnt from what happened so no one else has to suffer the same heartache that we as a family have.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell’s expertise in fatal claims