Woman died at Eastbourne DGH

A 88-year-old woman from Hailsham died in hospital earlier this year.
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Gillian Diana Northey, who lived an ‘active, entirely independent life’ according to her GP Dr Celine Inglis, died at the DGH on March 9 this year following the insertion of a pacemaker.

An inquest held at Eastbourne Town Hall on Thursday (November 5), heard that Mrs Northey, from Mountain Ash Close, admitted herself to hospital on March 5 for the pacemaker procedure.

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The inquest heard she suffered from underlying health conditions and fluctuating blood pressure that caused regular periods of dizziness. The pacemaker was fitted so her heart rate could be monitored closely.

Eastbourne Town Hall (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-190425-155105008Eastbourne Town Hall (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-190425-155105008
Eastbourne Town Hall (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-190425-155105008

Coroner Alan Craze said, “It was a necessary procedure - it was the one good thing you could do.”

The procedure resulted in a cardiac tamponade. This is where blood leaks into the space between the sack that encases the heart and the heart muscle. This places extreme pressure on the heart because it restricts movement and results in blood pressure dropping significantly.

The tamponade was spotted quickly and a drain was inserted in order to finish the procedure, the inquest heard.

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Dr Steve Furniss said, “It is only a problem if you don’t recognise it. It can be fatal if you don’t see it. However in this case it was noted and corrected.”

The inquest heard Mrs Northey returned home that same day after the procedure and seemed ‘upbeat’ according to her sons, Charles and David Northey.

However, she began to feel breathless a few days later when she spoke to Charles on the phone. He said, “She wasn’t her bubbly self.”

According to her hospital notes, Mrs Northey said she felt ‘light headed’ on March 7, the following day infection was indicated through blood tests, then in the early hours of March 9 she suffered from a cardiac arrest at 4am.

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Upon post mortem examination, it was found that Mrs Northey had a duodenal ulcer in her gut that haemorrhaged - leading to her cardiac arrest.

The inquest heard her death was due to the ulcer - which occurred naturally - rather than a result of the cardiac tamponade during the pacemaker insertion.

East Sussex coroner Alaz Craze ruled that Mrs Northey died of natural causes.

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