Woman died following mystery hip fracture

Coroner Terence Carney
Coroner Terence Carney

An elderly woman died after suffering a hip fracture after a mystery fall, an inquest heard.

Winifred Kirkup, of Tharsis Road, Hebburn, died of pneumonia after being admitted and operated on at South Tyneside District Hospital.

The 89-year-old was taken to the hospital after she began to feel unwell and doctors found she had a fractured hip.

Her daughter, Joyce Swainston, told South Tyneside coroner Terence Carney that her mother had not mentioned any kind of fall, but that her mobility had deteriorated in the last couple of years.

She said her mum always told her about falls she suffered - showing her bruises and scrapes - but that she knew nothing of a fall that could have led to a fractured hip.

Mrs Kirkup was admitted on November 19, 2014 after referral from the urgent care team and her fracture was found two days later when she was seen by a physiotherapist.

The inquest heard that Mrs Kirkup told the doctor she’d fallen a few days earlier, and an X-ray confirmed the fracture.

Mr Soham Gangopadhyay, a consultant orthopaedic trauma surgeon at South Tyneside District Hospital, saw Mrs Kirkup on November 22, and said that her fracture was “obvious” from the X-ray.

It was decided an operation was the best way forward and she had surgery to repair the fracture on November 23.

Mr Carney said of the mysterious fall: “There is no explanation as to when and where this happened but the fact that it has happened there is no doubt.”

After the operation Mrs Kirkup contracted pneumonia and died at the hospital, in Harton Lane, on November 26.

Her cause of death was given as pneumonia contributed to by a fractured hip, heart failure and her standing diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Delivering a narrative conclusion, Mr Carney said: “Her death was due to a fatal respiratory infection following the trauma and immobility of a necessary operation to repair a hip fracture sustained at a time and place and circumstances unknown.”