Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Inquest hears how pensioner got the wrong treatment for her broken hip

A hip injury suffered by an ‘uncomplaining’ elderly woman was exacerbated by the wrong treatment for her condition, an inquest has heard.

The children of 77-year-old Annie Muir from Lisburn wept in court yesterday as they described the “negligent” treatment given to their mother after the X-ray results of a broken hip were not circulated to staff.

Mrs Muir was admitted as a patient to Lagan Valley Hospital on December 17, 2005, after she had been discovered at her home on the Old Warren Estate in severe pain.

She died of septicaemia in Royal Victoria Hospital on January 26, 2006.

Consultant Dr Simon Au told Belfast Coroners Court yesterday he believed there was no fracture “given the information I had at the time”.

He was content for Mrs Muir to go to Drumlough House, a rehab and physiotherapy unit linked to the hospital.

Her treatment included walking to the unit’s dining-room and back until she began to refuse due to the severe pain.

Her daughter Lesley Crowe said: “She just did what she was told to do.

“I told her she had to do what she was told if she wanted to get home.”

She told the inquest: “My mother wasn't someone to complain or moan.

“She wasn't someone who just didn't want to do things or made a fuss.

“She wasn't like that. She just got on with it.”

Dr Alan Norris, the hospital’s consultant radiologist, said he was not aware of the results of the first X-ray until a second was carried out on January 5.

An undisplaced fracture detected on December 17 had a “marked displacement” by the beginning of January, he said.

“So in layman’s terms the fracture became exacerbated?” coroner Brian Sherrard asked.

“Yes,” Dr Norris said.

Mrs Crowe said that on arrival at the Royal Victoria Hospital on January 6, medical staff found her to be dehydrated and to have bed sores.

She was operated on on January 18.

She also had severe ulcers.

According to Mrs Crowe, the Royal’s High Dependency Unit nurses “said they had never seen the like of it”.

Consultant geriatrician Dr Rosemary Kelly said notes from Drumlough said the patient had often slept well and was able to move to and from the dining room.

“There was no deterioration in Drumlough House to prompt readmission on medical grounds,” she said.

No doctor had seen her between December 20 and January 3, it emerged.

“You couldn’t possibly walk on a broken hip with a smile on your face,” one of her daughters said.

Dr Kelly said: “The physios acted on what they were told. We all did.”

But she said the unit’s computer system had since been amended so that physiotherapists had full access to all reports.

The inquest was adjourned until August 10.

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