Coroner calls for more nursing care for immobile patients after death of 52-year-old Norwich woman

PUBLISHED: 11:51 10 January 2013

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong. Picture: Denise Bradley

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong. Picture: Denise Bradley


A coroner called for more nursing care and monitoring of restricted mobility patients after hearing how a 52-year-old Norwich woman died from infected pressure sores on her body.

Annette Dixon, from Fishergate, had been diagnosed with a spinal cord tumour in 2007, which was inoperable and had left her immobile and reliant on a mobility scooter to get about.

She was able to wash and dress herself but did not receive any nursing care, although two carers from an agency came to see every day for about 30 minutes to chat and help her move from her wheelchair.

She was also irregularly seeing a neurologist and a rehabilitation specialist.

On June 20 last year she saw her GP, Dr Sanjay Singh who did not feel she was particularly unwell, although he noted some sores and redness at the top of her bottom, when he examined her.

However, three days later, Miss Dixon’s sister Karen Gay visited her and was so concerned about her health, she contacted the out-of-hours doctor.

The out-of-hours doctor, Subhashbabu Patel told the inquest that when he visited he also did not feel she was particularly unwell and said all her vital organs were working normally and there was no evidence of systemic infection. He did not feel the need to examine her.

But on the morning of June 25, Miss Dixon’s lifeless body was found by her carers, and she was pronounced dead by the ambulance service.

Pathologist Richard Ball said that pressure sores can develop very rapidly, which explained why the two doctors did not find Miss Dixon particularly unwell.

However, Miss Dixon’s sister and brother-in-law, who attended yesterday’s Norwich inquest, said they could not understand how her condition could have deteriorated so quickly.

Mrs Gay said: “I did not feel she got the help she needed; it was not there most of the time.

“Her condition was not analysed as it should have been.”

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said: “I will take up with the appropriate bodies the need for more guidance and assistance in the management of people with restricted mobility – and are therefore at risk of developing pressure sores – in terms of nursing care and monitoring, something which Miss Dixon was not receiving.”

He recorded a narrative verdict that Miss Dixon died from sepsis from a severe sacral pressure sore, which was likely to have arisen from immobility caused by her long-standing spinal cord tumour condition.

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