London Colney woman died from rare hip infection

Hatfield Coroner's Court

Hatfield Coroner's Court - Credit: Archant

A woman died from an uncommon and chronic hip infection which never cleared up following surgery, a coroner has ruled.

Margaret Madden, of St Anne’s Road, London Colney, passed away on November 10, 2012.

Deputy coroner for Herts Graham Danbury said at the inquest into her death that the 74-year-old originally went into hospital in August 2012 for a hip operation.

She was readmitted to Watford General Hospital in mid-September after developing an infection which had caused her hip to weep and become red and inflamed.

The inquest heard Mrs Madden was put on a course of antibiotics and underwent a series of operations and “washouts” to clear the infection.

After each treatment swabs were taken that revealed different bacterias were growing in the wound.

Dr Anthony Maddox, consultant pathologist at Watford General Hospital, said the illness was uncommon: “This is the second case I’ve seen in 16 years of being a consultant pathologist.

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“Clearly a number of operations took place and every time you perform an operation there’s a risk of something like this happening.”

When all other options failed, surgeons decided to take out the artificial joint to try and get the wound to heal but the infection did not improve.

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mr Neil Davies said that after a two to three week period an infection could be expected to settle down but Mrs Madden’s continued to rage on.

She was moved to the intensive care unit where she died. Mr Davies said: “In 11 years I don’t think I’ve come across an infection which was so resilient to all forms of treatments.”

He told the coroner there had been a delay getting Mrs Madden in the theatre, as “clean” patients took priority over those with infections to avoid contamination.

But he added there was no proof of that contributing to her illness: “I think on the balance of probabilities we’d been struggling for six weeks to get control of the infection and delays are not things we like to have in the system, but I’m not sure they had a major affect.”

Summarising, Mr Danbury said Mrs Madden’s underlying diabetes made it harder for her to resist the infection. He added that once it took hold nothing more could have been done.

The coroner ruled the death as a result of complications of necessary surgery.