Pensioner died after routine operation at Sunderland hospital when temporary pacemaker wire perforated heart

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A PENSIONER died after a routine operation to fit a temporary pacemaker seven months after being told she needed a permanent one.

Norma Bradley, 89, was told she needed the pacemaker by doctors at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

She should have waited six weeks to have the device fitted, But the procedure was never carried out and when Ms Bradley, from Melrose Avenue, Murton, was admitted for emergency bowel surgery seven months later, surgeons had to fit a pacing wire as a temporary pacemaker.

The surgery went well but when the wire was removed, it perforated the pensioner’s heart and she became seriously ill.

An inquest was told her family had previously agreed that doctors should not try to resuscitate her and she died later that day – May 28 – in hospital.

Assistant coroner Karin Welsh acknowledged the perforation which killed Mrs Bradley was a recognised complication of the operation but raised concern that the permanent pacemaker was never fitted.

The coroner heard Ms Bradley was also being treated for lymphoma and type two diabetes.

Coroner officer Neville Dixon told the hearing she was reviewed at the hospital early this year after suffering breathlessness in October 2013, and it was agreed a pacemaker would be fitted.

But an appointment for the operation was never made.

She was rushed to hospital on May 28 with severe stomach pains and doctors said they needed to fit a pacing wire before clearing a blockage from her small bowel, as she suffered an irregular heartbeat.

Consultant Mr Martin Farrar said in a statement that Mrs Bradley was “reluctant” to have a pacemaker fitted but accepted the recommendation made by her doctor.

But he said there was no evidence of a waiting list or prior assessment in her name.

Mr Farrar added that Mrs Bradley should have waited four to six weeks to have a pacemaker fitted.

Bev Frankland, risk and inquest manager for City Hospitals Sunderland NHS, said: “This lady should have had a pacemaker fitted at an earlier time and if she had, there would not have been a need to have this wire inserted.”

The hospital has since introduced a electronic referrals to its cardiology department, she added, with a “double check system” of letters and emails.

Consultants are now alerted if an appointment was not made for one of their patients.

Assistant corner Karin Welsh said: “She died of a recognised complication of a procedure ancillary to an operation, but that procedure also would have been avoidable had a pacemaker been fitted when it should have been.

“My concern is not with the operation and what was done during that operation, but what did or did not happen some months earlier.”