Woman died after rest home scalding

Blackpool and Fylde coroner Alan Wilson
Blackpool and Fylde coroner Alan Wilson
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A 93-year-old woman died after being scalded at a Fylde coast care home, an inquest was told.

Freda Owens suffered burns while at The Croft House Rest Home in Freckleton on November 2, 2012.

She died at Royal Preston Hospital two months later.

The first day of a two-day inquest at Blackpool Town Hall was told Mrs Owens suffered burns to her backside after being sat on a commode of boiling water – an attempt by her carer, Leanne Marshall, to help treat a digestive condition.

Coroner Alan Wilson, pictured, heard Mrs Owens was sat on the commode for between two to five minutes, with the water temperature estimated at more than 110 degrees, according to a medical expert.

The pensioner’s skin was scalded after coming into contact with the water’s steam.

The inquest was told Mrs Owens injuries’ had led to her lying on her side.

This had caused a deep tissue pressure sore close to her left hip bone.

Dr Alison Armer, a pathologist at the Royal Preston Hospital, had reported the cause of death as being bronchial pneumonia due to necrotic, chronic pressure ulcer to the left hip and burns or scalds to the buttock.

Colin Raynor, a retired burns consultant who was asked to look at the case, said despite treatment, Mrs Owens would have struggled to overcome her injuries and agreed with Dr Armer’s assessment.

He added: “I would not have expected her to survive because of the injuries. The sepsis which follows and contamination – it is nearly always a lethal situation.

“The complications which followed caused her to contract pneumonia.”

But another expert Geoffrey Phillips, a retired consultant physician, concluded Mrs Owen’s “fate had been sealed” before she went into hospital and her hospital care had been good after being treated by plastic surgeons.

He added: “Having got into hospital my improvision at the time is that the scalds were healing.

“But the damage on the bone near her hip erupted.

“It was an unfortunate conjunction of circumstances.”

A pre-inquest hearing earlier this year revealed police had spoken to Mrs Marshall and the Crown Prosecution Service about the incident at the Kirkham Road-based care home.

But it was decided the care worker should not be prosecuted.

A tearful Mrs Marshall said Mrs Owens started “screaming, panicking and crying” 
after the scalding, but staff only realised there was an issue the next day.

She had been told the use of warm water could help relieve constipation.

She admitted she had tried to treat the burns with wipes, but had learned a “big lesson”.