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Woman died after surgery having twice been discharged from hospital, inquest hears

Edelgard Woods, from Ipswich, pictured in her 30s    Picture: ANDREW HARRIS

Edelgard Woods, from Ipswich, pictured in her 30s Picture: ANDREW HARRIS

An inquest into the death of a 70-year-old woman from Ipswich found "no evidence" she was fully reviewed before being twice discharged from hospital - which could have affected the outcome of her life-saving surgery.

Suffolk Coroners Court in Ipswich Picture: ADAM HOWLETTSuffolk Coroners Court in Ipswich Picture: ADAM HOWLETT

Edelgard Woods, of Cauldwell Hall Road, died on May 3, 2019, from 'rare' complications from an emergency bowel operation she underwent just days before.

An inquest into her death, at Suffolk Coroner's Court in Ipswich, heard Ms Woods had complained of pains in her abdomen and vomiting when first admitted on April 1 and was given 'conservative treatment' for a diagnosed obstruction in her bowel.

She was discharged on April 8 but was readmitted the next day with similar symptoms, but was again discharged.

When she was admitted a third time on April 29 it became apparent she needed surgery to save her life.

Ms Woods' son Andrew Harris, told the inquest that hospital staff had not checked whether his mother had eaten anything or whether she had been to the toilet before she was sent home from hospital.

Giving evidence, James Pitt, consultant surgeon, said complications had arose in the surgery. He said after the operation her bowel had become 'twisted', something he said neither he or his colleagues had ever seen happen in their time as surgeons, so she was operated on a second time.

Asked whether she would have been checked for constipation before being discharged prior to her operation, he said: "These days there is always massive pressure to get patients out of hospital. There is a big shortage of beds."

Concluding the inquest, area coroner Jacqueline Devonish said: "Edelgard Woods died from a rare complication of an obstructed bowel. There is no evidence of the bowel function being reviewed prior to discharge from hospital which could possibly have affected the outcome.

"However, it is not possible to say on a balance of probabilities whether she would have survived had she been observed for longer."

Rebecca Driver, Director of Communications and Engagement at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust said: "We offer our sincere condolences to Ms Woods' family and give our commitment to looking carefully at all aspects of her care so that we can learn any lessons".

A 'kind-hearted' woman

During the inquest, Edelgard Woods was described as a "bolshy and strong-willed" woman who was fiercely independent.

Born in Dusseldorf, Germany, Ms Woods worked well into her 50s as a office administrator in Suffolk before retiring for health reasons.

Following the inquest, her son Andrew Harris said he was pleased the coroner had taken the time to answer the family's questions.

He said: "My mum was determined and very independent.

"She was a lovely person.
"If she could help someone she would - she was very kind-hearted and a devoted mother.

"We will be approaching the hospital's patient liaison to discuss how she was treated.

"They should have checked her bowel function before she was discharged but that never happened.

"She was released one day and by the evening she was back in again."

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