Belfast Telegraph

Crash pensioner died in agony after being sent home from hospital with 17 rib fractures

A 71-year-old Northern Ireland crash victim died in agony after being discharged from hospital with 17 undetected rib fractures in what a doctor described as an “extremely unusual and probably unique” case.

Dr Alan McKinney was giving evidence at the inquest of Elizabeth McTeggart, from Cappog Road, Enniskillen.

The pensioner was a passenger in a car involved in a head-on collision on the Sligo Road, Enniskillen, on April 20, 2009. She complained of chest pains and was taken to the Erne Hospital. She was then sent home and died there four days later.

Coroner Brian Sherrard adjourned the Enniskillen Courthouse hearing after what he described as a possible difference of opinion between Dr McKinney and State Pathologist Jack Crane about the cause of death.

Prof Crane told an earlier sitting of the court that he found nine of Mrs McTeggart’s right ribs had been fractured, five of them in two places. There were also fractures to three of her left ribs and a fracture to her sternum.

“It was these chest injuries that were ultimately responsible for her death,” he concluded.

However, when the inquest resumed yesterday, Dr McKinney gave a “slightly different” interpretation of how the pensioner died.

He said five of right ribs were fractured in two places and he believed she had suffered a flail segment, which prevented air being properly drawn into the lungs. This continued until she had heart failure.

Belfast Telegraph

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