Heart doc's apology for lack of communication

A CARDIOLOGIST who battled to save a woman’s life while she underwent vital heart surgery has admitted Basildon hospital should have communicated better with her family during her care.

Maureen Iles, 72, from Hadleigh, died tragically last August while undergoing a stent operation to unblock one of her arteries.

An inquest into her death, which took place at the Chelmsford Civic Centre on Wednesday, heard family members had been told doctors were giving her a triple bypass instead and were never informed why the physicians had changed their mind on the procedure.

A triple bypass involves using arteries from elsewhere in the body and grafting them to the arteries in the heart to improve blood supply.

Maureen’s daughter Yvonne Elliott said at the inquest: “When she was first admitted the doctor told us in his opinion she was not suitable candidate for a triple bypass. Then we saw another doctor who said mum’s only option was for a triple bypass and if she didn’t have it she would be lucky to be here for another 12 months.

“Mum said she wanted to go for it because she wanted to stay with us and we were never told any different.”

Mrs Iles, who suffered from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, angina and diabetes, was admitted to the cardiothoracic centre at the hospital, in Nethermayne, on July 30 after suffering from shortness of breath.

Tests conducted shortly after she was admitted showed Mrs Iles had severe coronary artery disease, or blocked arteries, however doctors deemed it unsuitable to carry out surgery at the time because it was too high risk.

She was subsequently seen by three different doctors before a decision was made to for her to undergo surgery after further tests showed her condition had deteriorated and she was suffering heart failure and fluid on the lungs.

Dr Jeremy Sayer, who performed the operation and has been at the cardiothoracic centre for five years, said: “At that point she would not have survived an operation, but the outcome of doing nothing was equally very poor. It was a group decision that if we targeted just one artery it would help.

“The procedure seemed to be going well but unfortunately her heart failed. There were prolonged attempts to resuscitate her but unfortunately these were unsuccessful. I apologise if we did not communicate well with the family at the time, it is a great shame. I openly accept communication should have been better.”

Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray recorded a verdict of death by natural causes while undergoing a necessary medical procedure.

She said: “Clearly Maureen was much loved with all of her family here today. I would like to express the court’s sympathy to you for your loss.

“As usual there are some points to take away from this and, as is often the case, this is do with communication.”

A spokeswoman from Basildon Hospital said: “Basildon and Thurrock Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like to send its sympathies to the family of Maureen Iles.

"While the Trust did communicate with Mrs Iles’ family during her time at the hospital, it accepts that this could have been more thorough.”

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