Woman died after contracting double conditions

Published date: 06 December 2013 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A TALENTED artist who descended into a world of drug abuse died after contracting two unusual conditions, both of which often prove fatal on their own.

Sian Roberts, 37, of no fixed home, died at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital on November 22, 2010, just hours after being admitted suffering from deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

But within a matter of hours her condition deteriorated and a post-mortem examination revealed her death was due to septicaemia – blood poisoning – but she also had venous gangrene in her leg and necrotising fasciitis.

Dr Paul Hughes, the intensive care consultant on call that night, said he had never seen a case of the venous gangrene before.

“We were fighting a losing battle... her condition was deteriorating in front of my eyes,” he said.

As Miss Roberts was officially in police custody, after being taken to the hospital from Wrexham Police Station following her arrest earlier that evening, North Wales Police asked Dr Solomon Almond, consultant physician at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, to carry out an independent investigation into the circumstances.

He told the inquest in Ruthin that, although he came across cases of venous gangrene and necrotising fasciitis, he had never in his 20 years’ experience, seen them both together as both were very rare.

“The gangrene, in particular, can develop very quickly, even within a few hours,” he said yesterday.

It was possible, if not probable, said Dr Almond, the conditions had incurred through the spot in Miss Roberts’ groin where she had injected herself with heroin.

The jury was shown CCTV footage of Miss Roberts being arrested at the hospital on November 21 after having a scan when DVT was confirmed. At that stage she could hardly walk and yet some hours later, when she was arriving back at the hospital from the police station, she was walking much better.

Dr Almond said he believed she might have been under the influence of prescribed or illegal drugs on the first occasion but not affected by the conditions which led to her eventual death.

Asked by North East Wales coroner John Gittins why widespread marks on Miss Roberts’ thigh which were visible at the post-mortem examination had not been seen during earlier hospital visits, he said DVT would have prevented while she was alive.

The coroner read a statement from Miss Roberts’ father, Erfyl Roberts, who outlined her decline from a talented artist who gained a place at Cardiff College of Art to being involved in the drugs world in Wrexham, Denbigh and Corwen areas.  He said they were disappointed when she declined to take up the place in Cardiff, instead going to Wrexham College of Art.

At one stage her parents paid for her to attend a rehabilitation centre but she returned to heroin and valium, and could not keep a job.

The jury returned a narrative conclusion, noting Miss Roberts died of septicaemia caused by gangrene and fasciitis and chronic drug abuse. Her treatment had been compromised by her drug abuse.

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