A CORONER has called on the Government to change cleaning procedures in hospitals following the death of a mum who contracted a lethal infection at Wigan Infirmary.
Retired nursery nurse Jacqueline Thomason, 53, was admitted for routine surgery to remove part of her thyroid gland when she contracted the deadly infection Group A streptococcus.
She was discharged the next day, but became ill and was rushed back to hospital for an emergency operation.
Doctors were unable to save the mum-of-one, who died five days later. A hospital inquiry later found that cross contamination had occurred in an anaesthetic room.
It emerged that laryngoscope handles used to administer anaesthetic to another patient – who was later found to have Group A streptococcus – had not been cleaned and most likely caused Mrs Thomason to contract the infection.
Assistant deputy coroner Alan Walsh is now writing to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to ensure all hospitals follow stricter cleaning guidelines for anaesthetic equipment.
During an inquest at Bolton Coroner’s Court, Mr Walsh said: “I’m concerned that other hospitals and health institutions may not have taken actions and may still be operating on protocols which have not taken the matters arising from Mrs Thomason’s death into account.
“I will be requesting a review of anaesthetic procedures, particularly involving laryngoscope handles and medical equipment to ensure decontamination or replacement rather than reuse.”
Mrs Thomason, of Holden Brook Close, Leigh, was admitted to Wigan Infirmary on March 29 last year for a thyroidectomy.
The former nursery nurse at Leigh Infirmary’s Mary Sheridan Unit was discharged the next day, before returning to hospital hours later with symptoms of the Group A streptococcus infection. She died on April 3, 2010.
Consultant histopathologist Dr Twesha Wahie, who conducted a post mortem, said the cause of death was multiple organ failure caused by septicemia following a thyroidectomy for papillary carcinoma.
Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS (WWL) Trust launched an inquiry after Mrs Thomason and another unnamed patient – believed to be originally carrying the infection – died from the bacterial infection.
Patients on the theatre waiting list for March 29, 2010, were contacted and asked to report any symptoms of the infection.
Two patients – including a child – and three members of staff were treated but all made a full recovery. In a letter revealed to the Wigan Evening Post, the Trust admitted a breach in their duty of care which led to Mrs Thomason’s death.
The inquiry detailed 14 recommendations including changes to the cleaning of laryngoscope handles – which is now carried out at Wigan Infirmary’s Central Sterilizing Unit – and use of stronger chlorine-based disinfectant.
Recording a narrative verdict, Mr Walsh said: “Jacqueline Thomason died as a consequence of septicemia, due to cross infection from another patient that arose from the use of laryngoscope handles during anaesthesia that had not been adequately decontaminated or replaced between patients before the commencement of the next anaesthetic procedure.”
Following the inquest, Mrs Thomason’s husband Colin said: “At least something is going to be done and the national policy on this will be changed.
“But it is still very sad. If my wife had not had this preventative surgery, on the hospital’s advice, she would not have died.”