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Woman (91) in scalding horror died after contracting superbug


Daphne Anderson

Daphne Anderson

Daphne Anderson

A 91-year-old Dublin woman died after suffering second and third-degree burns and then contracting the superbug C Diff during her treatment, an inquest has heard.

Daphne Anderson, of Offington Lawn, Sutton, died in St James’s Hospital on December 18, 2015, after being admitted on December 3 for burns.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard yesterday that Ms Anderson had told doctors she was scalded in the shower.

However, her daughter Audrey Anderson had thought she was scalded by tea.

Simon Mills, counsel for Ms Anderson, suggested to coroner Dr Myra Cullinane that she should return a verdict of death by medical misadventure, or hospital-contracted infection.

Daphne Anderson had been administered antibiotics while in the hospital, which the court was told put her at greater risk of contracting C Diff.

However, Dr Cullinane recorded a narrative verdict with two elements.

She found that Ms Anderson died of a bowel perforation due to C Diff infection.

She said that as a consequence of the burns, antibiotics were required by Ms Anderson and she contracted C Diff.

Audrey Anderson’s counsel told the court his client had been left deeply distressed by her mother’s death and believed she had been given antibiotics when she did not need them.

She believed the treatment persisted until her mother contracted C Diff and that but for the infection she would still be alive.

Explaining her verdict, Dr Cullinane said it wasn’t for her to apportion blame

“I can’t adjudicate on whether something was the right thing to do or not,” she told Ms Anderson.

She said she considered the facts and then returned the cause of death.

The coroner added that the verdict of medical misadventure was one that was sometimes misunderstood.


“A narrative verdict is neither better nor worse than the one that has been proffered,” she said, adding that nothing “turns” on a Coroner’s Court verdict for any other legal action that might arise.

Dr Maureen McMenamin gave evidence in the case that it was one of complexity.

She also described multiple risk factors for Ms Anderson, including her age and a weakened immune system.

However, she said there were some main factors in her death.

“If she hadn’t received the burns it was probable she would not have died at this time,” she said.

Rebecca Graydon, counsel for St James’s, told the hearing that there was no evidence to suggest the case involved hospital-acquired infection.

She said up to 3pc of the population could carry C Diff without displaying any symptoms.

Ms Graydon expressed condolences to Ms Anderson on the death of her mother on behalf of the hospital

Ms Anderson declined to comment to the media after the case but said she was considering her options.