A PENSIONER died suddenly in hospital just four days after arriving at A&E following a fall at home, an inquest heard.

Ethel Murray was taken to Southampton General Hospital after collapsing in her garden in Mansell Road, Millbrook.

The opening day of her four-day Southampton inquest heard how the 80-year-old was initially assessed at the hospital’s A&E department for a suspected hip fracture.

Emergency department consultant Dr Sarah Robinson told the inquest that staff carried out additional tests to see if the fall was down to a medical condition.

It was ruled that Mrs Murray – who was diabetic and had kidney disease – did not require acute care and she was transferred to the Royal South Hants Hospital for rehabilitation.

The General hospital’s Older Person’s Team assessed her for mobility before she was sent to the community hospital on August 12, 2010, the day after the fall.

But she fell ill fterwards and was transferred back to Southampton General Hospital where she died on August 15.

A post mortem revealed evidence of bronchial pneumonia.

Barrister Elinor Hoile, for Mrs Murray’s family, asked Dr Robinson whether a series of “crackles” heard in the pensioner’s chest could have indicated the infection.

But Dr Robinson said doctors were very thorough and aware Mrs Murray had asthma.

She added: “Given the investigations were normal you wouldn’t suggest that shows an infection.”

Miss Hoile questioned whether Mrs Murray should have been referred to as nil by mouth at the hospital despite her diabetes.

But Dr Robinson said staff would have advised against food or water because they anticipated a hip fracture.

Pathologist Dr Vipul Foria told the inquest the extent of the infection suggested it had taken hold anytime between several hours and up to four days.

He said her age, diabetes and kidney disease all made her more vulnerable to the illness.

He told the inquest: “In a young and fit individual you wouldn’t expect pneumonia alone to be the cause of death.

“But if it’s a person who is elderly or frail or has other conditions even a small amount of bronchial pneumonia can reduce the body’s capacity to cope with that infection.”

He said her diabetes could have weakened her, but there was no evidence it had contributed directly to her death.

The inquest continues...