FAMILY upset at the inquest that saw a much-loved grandmother’s death attributed to natural causes say they will be seeking a High Court review into the matter.
Vicki Austin, 52, of Upper Sheffield Road, contacted emergency services on August 11 complaining of upper right rib and abdomen pain, and became unresponsive on her way to hospital before dying there due to a pulmonary thromboembolism.
She was first taken into theatre at Barnsley Hospital for a laparotomy - an incision into the abdomen - in August 2018 after a CT scan revealed a bowel obstruction.
The following January she alerted doctors to a ‘bulge’ on her midriff, diagnosed as divarication of the rectus abdominus - separation of the abdominal muscles.
And after more than a year and a number of appointments she was put on a waiting list for a further operation in October, 2020.
Vicki, who worked with students with learning disabilities at Barnsley College and also Mencap, underwent surgery last July when non-emergency appointments were resumed.
Following surgery, she received compression stockings and ten days of anti-clotting medicine dalteparin after it was found she had a family history of the condition Factor V Leiden - which increases chance of clots - although wasn’t diagnosed with it herself.
Vicki contracted an infection on August 2 and received antibiotics.
Doctors did not carry out a new risk assessment for thromboembolism - when a clot blocks a blood vessel - in the following week, due to Vicki being ‘mobile and showing clinical signs of improvement from the infection’.
Assistant coroner Tanyka Rawden said she did not find neglect - raised by the family’s representative - to be a factor in Vicki’s death, which she put down to natural causes.
However, family members have questioned the narrow definition of neglect used.
They believe a longer ‘narrative conclusion’ - as opposed to the short-form rulings of one or two words that are generally used - would have better suited Vicki’s complex circumstances.
Daughter Aimi Austin-Bailey said: “My mother’s death may have ultimately been a ‘natural cause’ - a blood clot - but there were so many missed opportunities, not denied by the court, to ensure she didn’t pass away from this and where she should have received far more help than she did.
“The coroner’s court will not note it as neglect as basically she was provided with food and water.
“However, in general life, neglect isn’t only whether someone has their very basic human rights met.
“Vicki deserves the truth and her family and friends want her paperwork to be written that way.”
Aimi said she has written to the chief coroner and will be taking the case to the High Court if necessary alongside an ongoing legal investigation for medical negligence.
“Vicki was attending emergency appointments asking for help as she was deteriorating and infected - all this is documented in her medical notes days before her death,” she added.
“My mother also requested blood tests many years ago to check if she had the clotting disorder than runs genetically through our family.
“The coroner stated that the minimum requirement for a patient for thinning medication after a basic operation was seven days, Vicki had ten days on a daily average dose.
“To say that is ‘sufficient’ and the risks were properly assessed for her personal case are beyond belief for my family and many many others who loved Vicki, after she had a 7 hour operation, massive abdominal surgery, a clotting disorder in her immediate family, a post-operative aggressive infection and diabetes, to say ten days to be ‘sufficient’ is quite frankly just absurd.
“There are so many people with no issues who are prescribed six weeks anti-clotting medication to take home.
“My mum was a very much loved woman and I will do all I can to make sure her paperwork reads the truth for her grandchildren and for the future generations in our family.”