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Former Soldier Died after Faecal Matter Leaked from Hole Left after Surgery

Michael Ward, from Chilworth, had bowel cancer but died in the Royal Surrey after an operation to remove a tumour developed complications, an inquest has heard.

 

HM Coroner's Court Surrey

A former soldier who served in Northern Ireland died at the Royal Surrey County Hospital as a result of complications from surgery, a coroner has ruled.

Michael Ward was 67 when he underwent surgery at the Guildford hospital in January as part of treatment for bowel cancer.

He had suffered poor health in the last five years of his life, including Type 2 Diabetes and obesity, and was on strong opiate medication to help him manage pain from surgery, Woking Coroner's Court heard on Thursday.

On January 29, he attended the hospital for a colorectal operation. He had been assessed for suitability for the operation by Dr Mike Scott, and the procedure was carried out by Iain Jordan.

Dr Scott told the court he had taken a decision to delay Mr Ward's surgery as he had been ill with a chest infection earlier in the year, and the surgery would be riskier without full recovery.

Mr Ward's surgery was vital as he was bleeding, but his chances of recovery improved if the surgery was planned rather than done in an emergency, it was said.

After a pre-operative assessment, Dr Scott secured Mr Jordan as surgeon, as he was the most experienced surgeon in the hospital in technically difficult procedures such as in obese patients.

Mr Jordan performed key hole surgery, cutting through layers of fat to reach the bowel, which was cut in two places to remove a tumour and then sealed.

'Very serious'

Mr Jordan said: "On day one after surgery, there were issues with pain on the side of his wound. There were no parameters to suggest disturbance of the abdomen.

"I was confident there would be no leak and it had been done well. The risks of a negative visit to theatre were high."

Mr Ward was sent for a CT scan on January 30, but it was decided there was not a leak in his bowel.

On the second day post-surgery, a diagnostic laparoscopy on January 31 of Mr Ward highlighted an 8mm perfectly circular hole in Mr Ward's bowel, from which faecal matter was leaking into his body.

"I knew this was very serious because he had no reserve to deal with this problem," Dr Jordan said.

"This happens to one in 20 patients but most have sufficient reserve to cope with subsequent surgery.

"At that stage, with an unfit patient, I did as little as possible but achieved complete cleansing."

Mr Jordan said he could not be certain when or how the hole appeared but he suspected a diverticulum, a small pouch on the colon, was cut but not sealed during the operation and that no one saw it happen at the time.

Mr Ward, who lived in Chilworth with his wife of 47 years, died on February 2. His cause of death was given as multiple organ failure, with septicaemia and colonic perforation. His cancer and obesity were also considered to contribute to his death.

'High risk'

Giving evidence to Woking Coroner's Court on Thursday September 3, his daughter Anita Bishop said: "He had always been a very active man and was in the army for 10 years, serving in Northern Ireland. He had been a strong man all his life.

"My understanding when he went into the operation was that we put our trust in the people who said he was well enough to have the operation.

"His heart was the last organ to go."

Dr Karen Henderson, assistant coroner for Surrey, said: "He died of complications arising from necessary surgery from a background of poor health."

Louise Stead, director of nursing and patient experience at the Royal Surrey, said: "The trust offers its sincerest condolences to Mr Ward's family.

"All surgery carries risk. Unfortunately in this instance, the patient's underlying medical conditions made him unable to cope with a rare complication of laparoscopic surgery that could not have been foreseen or predicted.

"The trust carried out a full internal investigation following Mr Ward's passing which found that all care was timely, considered and appropriate.

"The trust is committed to continuous improvement and we would always undertake a review to support this process. Mr Ward's underlying conditions made him a very high risk patient and the trust will continue to take on high risk cases."

 

Source: Get Surrey

 

 

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