THE family of a mum-of-three who died from liver disease think she could still be with them if she’d been admitted to hospital earlier.
Kelly Edminson died on January 27 at South Tyneside District Hospital from multi-organ failure, as a consequence of liver failure and the poisoning of her system which it caused.
After an inquest into her death, family members said the 36-year-old could still be here today if she’d been admitted to hospital earlier, though doctors insisted they could not be certain of that.
The inquest, held by South Tyneside coroner Terence Carney, heard that Miss Edminson was a heavy drinker, and would consume up to a bottle-and-a-half of rosé wine a day.
Family members told Mr Carney that Miss Edminson, of John Williamson Street, South Shields, had begun feeling poorly at the beginning of the year.
She had previously drunk up to half a bottle of vodka a day, before moving on to wine, but towards the end of her life had cut down to two or three glasses a day.
Miss Edminson’s family members told the hearing she had lost weight over the Christmas period, and in January decided to go to her doctor.
Her daughter, Jessica Edminson, said: “She knew she was poorly and she wanted to get medical help.”
Miss Edminson visited her GP, Dr Neil Dowden, at Trinity Medical Centre in New George Street, South Shields, on January 2, and was sent for blood tests.
She went back on January 10 and was told she was anaemic. Dr Dowden prescribed vitamins.
On January 17, she visited the walk-in centre at Jarrow’s Palmer Community Hospital, suffering from water retention and swollen ankles and stomach. She also had a jaundiced appearance.
Staff told her to visit her GP urgently and she did so the following day, when she was referred for an abdominal ultrasound scan.
The January 24 scan showed that her liver was enlarged, and Dr Dowden contacted the gastroenterology department to rush Miss Edminson’s referral through, but she was never seen.
Dr Dowden said reception staff would have tried to contact Miss Edminson with her results, but that there is no record as to whether they succeeded.
Mr Carney said: “If this patient had been contacted on the 24th, I would have thought that would have instilled some reaction.”
Dr Dowden said while there was cause for concern, he did not expect Miss Edminson to die so fast.
He also said that the radiographer who did the scan could – and would – have admitted her straight to hospital if he was concerned.
On January 25, she became confused and on January 27, her partner, Christian McMullen, called an ambulance. She was taken to South Tyneside District Hospital, but died that same day.
Mr McMullen said after January 18, she had continued to get worse.
She stopped drinking on January 23, and that week, stayed in bed for up to 20 hours a day.
Mr McMullen said: “We had packed a bag for her on the 18th and she was ready to be admitted.
“She got it into her head that she was ready to go into hospital, and she was just sent away.”
Pathologist Dr Mark Egan, who carried out a post-mortem examination, said that aside from her liver, the rest of Miss Edminson’s organs were “normal”.
Dr Joanne Topping, consultant gastroenterologist at South Tyneside District Hospital, said when Miss Edminson first presented herself on January 2, there was evidence of chronic liver disease but no decompensation (functional deterioration), and that Dr Dowden had acted correctly.
Mr Carney said: “It’s that decompensating and the failure of the liver to do the jobs it needs to do that, ultimately, leads to death.”
Dr Topping said it was “purely speculation”, but that had Miss Edminson been admitted to hospital on January 18, her chances of survival could have improved.
Giving a narrative verdict, Mr Carney said: “Kelly’s death was caused by a combination of the unintended consequences of alcohol misuse and the systematic undiagnosed – and therefore untreated – acute failure of the liver function, the prognosis in any event being problematic and uncertain.”