James Paget scrutinised over aneurysm death

A “TICKING time bomb” aneurysm was spotted in an X-ray at James Paget University Hospital just days before it killed a Great Yarmouth mother-of-three, an inquest heard.

Coroner Yvonne Blake recorded a narrative verdict of death from natural causes at Yarmouth Magistrates’ Courts after guest house proprietor Janet Pearson, 61, died at the hospital on June 16, 2009. She had been rushed by ambulance from her home on Churchill Road suffering a cardiac arrest caused by an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a day before she was due to see her GP about the problem.

This week, the inquest heard how Mrs Pearson had approached her GP Dr Rekha Lal with back pains in May, the latest in a number of visits stretching back to 1996. Noticing her weight loss and concerned about a possible bone marrow disease, the GP referred her for an X-ray at the James Paget.

In the X-ray, consultant radiologist John Latham discovered the aneurysm.

Dr Latham said: “It was an accidental find. I wasn’t looking for it, but it was significant and I reported and said it needed further investigation.”

Representing Mrs Pearson’s family, barrister Abhijeet Mukherjee pointed to a four-day delay between the X-ray being taken and the sending of a report about the findings to the GP on June 15, a day before Mrs Pearson’s death.

Calling the practice “perverse” he also queried why, if the aneurysm was of concern, the radiologist had told the GP that she would need to contact his department again for an ultrasound.

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Naming Mrs Pearson’s problem a “ticking time bomb” Mr Mukherjee added: “The GP considered this to be an urgent situation. Why follow bureaucracy when it was your very department which could have done this in an instant?”

However, Dr Latham’s actions were defended by independent expert witness Dr Allen Edwards, who said that such practice was the norm within the NHS and compared speed of the response favourably with other hospitals.

Of aneurysms, he said: “There’s always a quandary. Many will wait for weeks and months to get fixed. You can’t predict what’s going to happen. From my experience of other places they delivered a rapid service.”

Following the inquest, Sarah Beer described her mother, a grandmother of five, as a “very happy lady with a great outlook on life” whose “family was the main focus in her life.”

Reflecting on the verdict, she added: “Me and my father don’t really feel we’ve got anywhere, we just feel that something in the system should’ve been done and it wasn’t.”