'No consent' for teeth removal op on woman who later died

By Rebecca Woods
BBC News

image copyrightDiana Johnston
image captionRachel Johnston's mother Diana has started a legal battle for negligence

The mother of a disabled woman who died after all her teeth were removed says she did not consent to the operation.

Rachel Johnston's family has started a legal claim for negligence, saying medics failed to discuss risks of the treatment she had for tooth decay.

Ms Johnston, 49, who collapsed shortly after being discharged from hospital, was readmitted and died weeks later.

Health chiefs in Worcestershire said serious incident investigations had been carried out.

Ms Johnston, who suffered brain damage after contracting meningitis as a baby, had the operation at Kidderminster Hospital in October and was discharged hours later.

She was later rushed to hospital suffering from bleeding and breathing difficulties and put on a life-support machine.

Her family was eventually told there was nothing more doctors could do for her and she died on 13 November.

image copyrightDiana Johnston
image captionRachel Johnston collapsed shortly after being discharged from hospital

Lawyers acting for Ms Johnston's family claim a series of errors led to her death.

They said the law around consent stated that doctors should discuss all risks and state why alternatives are not appropriate.

The family claim that because Ms Johnston lacked the capacity to make a decision, her mother Diana Johnston's concerns should have been taken into consideration by medical staff.

Mrs Johnston, who lives in Evesham, Worcestershire, said she wanted "to get justice for my baby".

"I don't feel that I was properly consulted, or that Rachel's treatment was discussed properly," she added.

"Things should have happened very differently. I wanted them to take a few teeth out at a time, maybe two at a time and give her a chance to recover.

"I wanted to make sure that she was safe. Her life was in my hands."

image copyrightGoogle
image captionMs Johnston underwent the operation at Kidderminster Hospital in October

Ms Johnston's suffered cerebral hypoxia and aspiration pneumonia after having her teeth out, a post-mortem test found.

Her family are also claiming she should not have been treated as a day patient.

Caron Heyes, from legal firm Fieldfisher which is representing the family, said Mrs Johnston was not told how many of her daughter's teeth were removed.

"She [Mrs Johnston] found out after a learning disabilities mortality review investigation was launched," she said.

"Prior to surgery, Diana clearly stated that she did not think complete extraction was the right option for her daughter."

image copyrightDiana Johnston
image captionRachel Johnston celebrated her 40th birthday with family and friends

In a statement, the three health organisations dealing with the case - Worcestershire Health and Care Trust, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust and Wyre Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) - said: "We would like to express our condolences with Ms Johnston's family for their loss.

"Both trusts have completed internal serious incident reports, which is usual in a case like this, and are also participating in the wider review led by the CCG looking at the care provided by all of the agencies involved."

It said the reports would be shared with Ms Johnston's family.

A three-day inquest is set to take place in August at Stourport Coroner's Court.

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