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Disabled woman’s cause of death after routine operation was partly from neglect

28 April 2021

A woman with learning disabilities died after a routine eye operation from causes which in part included malnutrition as a result of neglect, a coroner has ruled.

Laura Booth, who was 21, was admitted in September 2016 to the Royal Hallamshire hospital in Sheffield. She died on 19 October.

Laura’s mother, Patricia Booth, told the inquest that her daughter stopped eating shortly after she was admitted to hospital, and that doctors ignored her attempts to communicate.

She said she told the doctors: “This isn’t right, she can’t survive on no food.”

The coroner ruled that Laura “developed malnutrition due to inadequate management for her nutritional needs” and that her death “was contributed to by neglect”. Feeding charts were not started despite concerns about her nutrition from her admission onwards.

The coroner said: “I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that had Laura received adequate nutrition during her admission, the outcome on the 19 October 2016 would have been altered.”

Kirsten Major, Chief Executive of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We regret what happened and we have already overhauled our nutrition service and processes so there is now a clear lead decision-maker to review and expedite actions for patients with complex nutritional needs. We are truly sorry for what happened, and we will be responding to all of the coroner’s recommendations to prevent this situation happening again.”