Pensioner died after routine hip replacement

tis  Harrogate District Hospital exterior.  101020M1a.
tis Harrogate District Hospital exterior. 101020M1a.

An elderly woman who fell and fractured her hip died after surgery to replace it, an inquest has heard.

Joan Horsfall, 88, died on May 28 after a routine operation at Harrogate District Hospital, coroner Rob Turnbull was told.

The pensioner had undergone surgery after a fall in the garden two days before, but had suffered a rare reaction to the cement used and never regained consciousness.

“It was decided that, while she was stable, she was deeply unconscious and that aggressive treatment wasn’t in her best interests,” said Dr Daniel Scott from Harrogate District Hospital, giving evidence. “She was allowed to die peacefully at that time.”

The coroner, sitting at Harrogate Magistrates Court last Thursday, heard how Mrs Horsfall had suffered a fall in the garden of Greenfield Court, the independent home she lived in.

She had been taken to Harrogate District Hospital by ambulance and treated for minor head injuries.

While there, she had tried to walk and it was found that she had fractured the neck of her left femur - an injury commonly referred to as a hip fracture.

But during surgery to replace the hip, the court was told, her heart rate had suddenly dropped. She was admitted to intensive care but died the next day.

Dr Scott, who had carried out a post-mortem, said the hospital had investigated but had concluded that it was too rare an occurrence to inspire a change in policy.

“There was discussion locally about the value of the cement and whether we should continue using it,” he said.

“But we use it several times a day, thousands of times a year and it’s a very rare event. They felt there wasn’t enough evidence to satisfy a change of practice.

“We did weigh the balance of information and in this case the benefits outweigh the risks.”

Coroner Rob Turnbull, recording a narrative verdict, said: “Mrs Horsfall died of a known but rare complication of surgery.”