Woman who died due to flesh-eating disease could not feel deadly infection because of injury that left her in wheelchair

Sally Corkhill
Sally Corkhill
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A Blackpool woman who had to use a wheelchair after falling 15ft from a window 20 years ago could not feel a flesh-eating infection in a wound on her side until it was too late.

Sally Corkhill, 57, died of sepsis and multi-organ failure at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on December 28 last year.

She had been suffering from a serious infection, necrotizing faciitis, in a sore that had spread across her right thigh, hip and buttock.

However, because of her mobility problems, she was unable to feel the intense pain that normally accompanies the flesh-eating disease.

At her inquest at Blackpool Town Hall on Tuesday, pathologist Dr Mark Sissons said: “The infection was a very rapidly progressive, dangerous disease caused by various types of bacteria that can result from a very small wound. The infection takes hold and spreads through the soft tissue and causes extreme damage. The infection has spread into her bloodstream and caused death.”

On December 19, a nurse visited Miss Corkhill at her Portree Road home, where she lived with her partner Andrew Edge. The following day she was visited by her GP, who arranged for her to be taken to hospital by ambulance later that day.

She had surgery to remove the diseased tissue on December 22, and was checked under anaesthetic on Christmas Eve.

But a few days later her condition worsened and she suffered a cardiac arrest on December 27. She died at 3.50am the next day.

Miss Corkhill used a wheelchair after suffering a spine injury in a 15ft fall from a window in August 1998.

She told doctors at the time that she had drank 10 pints of beer and fallen while reaching for a lighter - but there were rumours that she had been pushed.

Mr Edge said Miss Corkhill had been in an abusive relationship with another man at the time.

Old police reports showed there had been incidents of domestic violence at Miss Corkhill’s home, but there was no evidence to suggest her fall was a result of foul play.

Handing down a narrative conclusion, coroner Alan Wilson said Miss Corkhill’s death could not be put down to natural causes alone, as it was contributed to by her accident years before.

He said: “Sally’s death was contributed to by a delay in seeking medical assistance, likely due to a reduced sensitivity to pain after a spinal cord injury in 1998 when she was reported to have falledn 15ft from a window.

“Her death has been more than minimally contributed to by this incident in the late 1990s.”