No blame for Pilgrim doctors for woman’s post-operation death

DOCTORS who treated a woman who died following emergency surgery at Pilgrim Hospital have been cleared of any possible blame in her death, after a coroner ruled she lost her life to natural causes.

Susan Atter, 50, died less than two weeks after an operation to remove part of her bowel, despite seeming to recover well from the procedure in the days immediately after.

However, she suffered what the coroner called a ‘catastrophic deterioration’ when complications developed, including heart problems and leakage from the bowel. She died shortly afterwards, on January 7, 2012.

In an inquest into the death of the Boston woman last week, South Lincolnshire Coroner Robert Forrest said any medical intervention taken to treat Miss Atter, who was suffering from serious bowel problems, had simply not managed to tackle her condition, as opposed to contributing to her death.

He said: “It seems to me the cause of death was ulcerative colitis and and all the medical and surgical treatment did no more than to prevent her death.

“The appropriate verdict is death due to natural causes.”

The inquest, held at Splading Magistrates’ Court on Friday, heard that Miss Atter, who was morbidly obese and suffered from a number of other health problems, had been admitted to hospital at the end of November last year suffering from 
severe diahorrea.

She was diagnosed with severe osteo-colitis and given steroids to try to treat the problem. When she did not respond to these, she underwent emergency surgery.

Surgeon Mumir Rathore said surgery was not thought necessary when she was first admitted to hospital, as it was her first attack of the condition, but added: “In hindsight, if she was operated on she might have survived.”

By the time the risky surgery was deemed necessary, the chances of Miss Atter making a full recovery were less than 40 per cent, another doctor said.