Inquest into death of Kirsten Stewart, 33

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THE death of a woman who had undergone treatment for cancer could not have been averted, an inquest heard.

Kirsten Stewart, a Yorkshire Ambulance Service worker, was 33 when she died at York Hospital.

An inquest, held at New Earswick Folk Hall, heard Miss Stewart and her mother had gone to York Hospital the day before her death after she felt unwell. She was found to be dehydrated with an abnormal bloodcount and low potassium levels.

The inquest heard Miss Stewart, from Wigginton, was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and had previously had a gastric band fitted due to a weight issue.

A post- mortem examination showed part of her small bowel had become infected – a condition which was not spotted while hospital staff were treating her.

Dr Gerard Robbins, gastroenterologist at York Hospital, told the inquest he had seen Miss Stewart between 9am and 10am the day before her death in 2008, and gave instruction for antibiotics to be used when she developed a temperature.

An independent report into Miss Stewart’s death suggested earlier use of antibiotics could have allowed doctors to identify and perhaps operate on problems with Miss Stewart’s lower bowel.

The report suggested there were a number of occasions when she should have been given antibiotics, especially when she developed a fever.

Miss Stewart’s notes showed she had a fever of 39 degrees at 10.55am, but she was not given antibiotics until almost 12 hours later, the inquest heard. However, the report also stated: “It is possible she would have survived for a few hours longer, but it is extremely unlikely she would have recovered.”

Dr Robbins said: “There are a lot of problems associated with the use of antibiotics. It is a judgement call to make and at the time, to my recollection, we had an alternative explanation as to why Miss Stewart was feeling unwell, with low potassium.

“If my instructions had been followed from when I saw her to antibiotics being given it would have been a difference of about an hour.”

Coroner Donald Coverdale said: “There was some delay to treatment, but I do not believe that significantly contributed to the outcome. I will not include in my verdict any suggestion of neglect by York Hospital in the treatment of Miss Stewart.”

Mr Coverdale entered a verdict of death from natural causes.

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