Mystery surrounds why woman developed temperature of 42 degrees post surgery, inquest hears

Mystery surrounds why woman developed temperature of 42 degrees post surgery, inquest hears

By Louise Roseingrave

A woman who developed a temperature of 42 degrees following warming treatment after cancer surgery died following organ failure.

Teresa Dorman (78) of Carndonagh Rd, Donaghmede, Dublin 13 was admitted to Beaumont Hospital for oral cancer surgery on November 21 2016.

She was treated using warming therapy to ensure her best chances for recovery following surgery but this treatment was withdrawn after she developed a dangerously high temperature.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard how the woman’s condition deteriorated rapidly in the days following surgery as she developed a fever and her temperature soared to 40 degrees.

The warming therapy was withdrawn but her temperature continued to rise reaching 42 degrees on November 28.

Doctors were unable to explain the cause of her rapid rise in temperature and the woman’s case was described as ‘unique.’

Head and neck surgery specialist Professor James O’Neill said the warming treatment was not designed to raise her temperature but to protect the woman from developing known life threatening complications post-surgery.

Responding to questions from family members Prof O’Neill said the warming treatment was not responsible for the woman’s sustained high temperature and she was treated for infection as a more likely cause.

“The fact the temperature remained high despite all treatment is very unusual. This case is really unique,” Prof O’Neill said.

The woman had been a smoker and Prof O’Neill said he believed she suffered a 'septic episode' in the lungs post-surgery.

“But I cannot give a definitive answer,” he said.

Family members said the woman’s room on the ward was very warm, with a radiator, a heater and full sunshine entering the room.

Mrs Dorman was returned from the ward to intensive care where her organs began to deteriorate.

She was treated in hospital until she was transferred to St Francis’ Hospice for palliative care on January 18 2017. She died a week later on January 25.

A post-mortem gave the cause of death as acute peritonitis or inflammation of the lining of the abdomen due to ischaemic heart disease.

Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan said there was nothing at autopsy to explain the woman’s deterioration post-surgery.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane returned a narrative verdict and offered condolences to the family.

“It’s not been possible today to understand why she developed such a devastating condition from which she did not recover,” the coroner said.

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