THE family of a frail 92-year-old woman who died at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital have disputed a verdict that her death was due to natural causes.
Barbara Read, of Woodlinken Drive, Verwood, died of cardiac failure on October 28 last year after five days in hospital, during which time her daughter, a nursing lecturer, and her GP granddaughter, repeatedly questioned her treatment.
The former model and cashier was diagnosed as suffering from a urinary tract infection and dehydration after being admitted on Thursday, October 24.
Bournemouth Coroners Court this week heard how Mrs Read, who weighed just 34kg, was given four litres of intravenous fluids over the next two days, along with antibiotics.
On one occasion, the court heard, she was given fluids quicker than the doctor would have liked and on another, she was given fluids after a doctor directed they should be stopped.
Although she showed signs of improvement on the Friday, her condition deteriorated rapidly on October 26, and she was diagnosed with pneumonia and given a further litre of fluids.
Her granddaughter Dr Charlotte Rendall, a Norfolk-based GP, told the inquest her family had repeatedly tried to persuade doctors that the symptoms were the result of a fluid overload, which they believe eventually overloaded her heart.
“I knew what she was dying from and I couldn’t do anything about it.
“I was desperately trying to get people to understand,” she said.
But after hearing evidence from doctors who treated Mrs Read, coroner Sherriff Payne said it was unclear whether fluid overload had been a contributory factor to her death, and he recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.
The court heard that pathologist Dr Adrian Bateman had found no evidence of pneumonia but consultant geriatrician and independent expert Dr Matthew Thomas said it was not possible to rule out an infection.
Dr Thomas also expressed concern that a review by a senior doctor was not sought quickly enough after Mrs Read’s condition began to deteriorate.
After the inquest, Mrs Read’s daughter Linda Rendall, a retired nursing lecturer at De Montford University, said: “This is what we expected, a complete farce, but we are still disappointed.
“If mother hadn’t gone into hospital she would still be alive today and could have passed away at home in peace.
“There were no signs of infection in her chest, and she was given far too much fluid for a frail old lady.
“We don’t want a single penny from the hospital, we want the hospital to own up to making serious errors, to hopefully protect other elderly people.”
She said the family would be discussing their next move.