Woman from Dunstable died of head injury after fall

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A mum from Dunstable died of a devastating brain injury after falling down the stairs, an inquest heard last week.

Elaine Wilkins, 51, of Mardale Avenue, was found unresponsive at the bottom of a flight of stairs by husband Colin on September 21, 2015.

She was taken to L&D Hospital before being transferred to Addenbrookes Hospital where she underwent surgery.

After no improvement and following discussions with her family, it was agreed to withhold further treatment and she died on September 25.

Although it was ruled Mrs Wilkins’ injury had been “unsurvivable”, her husband and children were shocked when doctors suggested chronic liver disease as a result of alcohol abuse as a secondary cause of death, based on a CT scan and misreading of her history.

A report by Mrs Wilkins’ GP stated that she had never been treated for alcohol dependency and had never shown signs of alcohol abuse. She had taken medication for other ailments.

Mr Wilkins told the inquest: “It had been the 31st anniversary of us meeting. We’d had a bottle of wine and two bottles of beer. I think that was possibly misinterpreted.

“We’ve always found that completely unreal to believe that it was alcohol-related. The medication has side effects that affect liver results and produce jaundice. We were wondering if that could have caused the misdiagnosis.”

Assistant coroner Martin Oldham said the point was a valid one and the only way doctors could have been sure would have been to order a postmortem.

Regarding the alcohol abuse suggestion, he said: “Doctors who treated her for many years found no evidence of alcohol abuse.

“My conclusion is that she died as a result of an accident. It’s almost a slur on her personally to bring up issues such as chronic liver disease.

“I’m completely satisfied that there is no tangible evidence of liver disease brought about by consumption of alcohol.

“What the doctor looked at was the CT scan and the history and they jumped to a conclusion.”

Mr Wilkins, who was accompanied by his family said afterwards that he was satisfied with the coroner’s conclusion.

A fundraiser for the neuro-critical care unit of Addenbrookes in his wife’s memory has already raised over £1,600.