Woman Injured in Bathroom Fall Dies Following Mistakes by Doctors

If it were not for the tragic outcome of the incident, or the persistent failings of doctors, 35-year-old Cindy Corton’s bathroom fall would no doubt have been the subject of much laughter amongst her friends and family. In 2005, an inebriated Mrs Corton suffered a drunken fall in a friend’s bathroom, which is not unusual in itself. However, Mrs Corton, of Sleaford, Lincolnshire, happened to land on a toilet brush during the incident, which caused the handle to become wedged in the fleshy tissue of her buttocks. The bizarre circumstances of the accident did little to compensate for the pain and distress suffered by Mrs Corton, who sought urgent medical treatment at Grantham Hospital.

Dr Killian Mbewe was the first doctor to examine Mrs Corton, who also received an X-ray at Grantham Hospital. However, for whatever reason, the toilet brush handle was not detected by hospital staff, despite at least two examinations. So began a lengthy and painful period for Mrs Corton, who spent two years desperately attempting to convince doctors that the toilet brush handle remained inserted in her buttocks.

As incredible as the story may seem to outsiders, Mrs Corton’s situation was one that is regularly faced by those who bring personal injury claims against the medical profession – not in respect to the circumstances but in relation to the communication failure between doctors and patients. In order to provide effective medical treatment, it is essential that doctors listen to the concerns of their patients; unfortunately, this does not always happen and many victims of clinical negligence are forced to bring personal injury claims that could so easily have been prevented by improved communication.

In Mrs Corton’s case, doctors eventually took her claims seriously in 2007, during which time surgeons performed two unsuccessful procedures to remove the foreign object. Due to the length of time that had passed since the accident occurred, it was unsurprising that the procedures failed because the injury had significantly worsened. Accordingly, more invasive surgery was scheduled following the earlier failed attempts. In 2009, Mrs Corton died in theatre from massive blood loss at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre.

An inquest into Mrs Corton’s death recorded a narrative verdict and coroner Stuart Fisher levelled particular criticism at Dr Killian Mbewe, who arguably should have followed up his patient’s complaint more thoroughly and had the greatest opportunity to remove the toilet brush handle before it could cause or result in lasting damage. The inquest’s verdict came as cold comfort to Mrs Corton’s husband, Peter, who claimed that his wife had received a “very poor service” from the NHS before suggesting that she would have almost certainly received better treatment abroad. Given the circumstances surrounding Mrs Corton’s death, it is difficult to imagine that worse treatment could have been provided elsewhere. According to the coroner’s report, NHS failings occurred from the moment Mrs Corton was admitted to Grantham Hospital to the moment she died on the operating table.

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