'Woman not observed after surgery'

THE inquest into Judith McNaught's death heard no observations were taken by medical staff the night after she had a routine operation.

This was despite a doctor's advice she be observed at least every four hours, for the first 36 hours.

The 69-year-old died five days after she underwent surgery to remove her gall bladder, in Rockhampton Hospital, on June, 2010.

The consultant surgeon who oversaw Mrs McNaught's operation, Dr Alan Atherstone, testified he drew up a post-surgery nursing care plan.

It instructed observations were to be taken half-hourly, followed by hourly, two-hourly, then four-hourly checks, for the 36 hours after the operation.

The court heard Mrs McNaught was asleep the night after the surgery and Dr Atherstone said he thought it was common practice for nurses not to disturb sleeping patients.

Mrs McNaught was later transferred from the surgical ward to the rehabilitation ward.

Dr Atherstone said he was not informed of the move, and would have advised against it had he known.

A post-mortem revealed Mrs McNaught died of massive organ failure.

Coroner Annette Hennessy hoped to determine whether Mrs McNaught's surgery was performed correctly and if she was given proper post-operative care.

Counsel assisting the coroner said each piece of evidence was part of a fabric and if seen as its own it could be misrepresented.

The inquest is expected to continue until Friday.



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