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Maggots seen in elderly woman's wound

TRACEY CHATTERTON
Last updated 16:07 31/03/2014

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An experienced doctor was shocked when she found maggots crawling over an elderly woman's rotting leg ulcer, a court has heard.

The wound which had grown into a blanket covering the 82-year-old's leg, looked "weeks if not months old", doctor Caroline Young told the Napier District Court today.

The woman's daughter Jo-Ann Quinn, 51, who was her sole caregiver, is on trial for failing to provide the necessities of life.

Crown prosecutor Steve Manning said woman had several health issues including heart trouble, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis and relied on her daughter's care.

Medical staff found the woman in an "unkempt, unclean, medically risky environment" when her daughter called them to their home on November 15, 2011.

Young, a Napier GP, entered a dark, musty room that afternoon and found an elderly woman lying on a couch covered in dried feces in a "terrible" state.

When she lifted the blanket covering her, the woman's lower legs were "pretty much covered in moving maggots", she said. She couldn't see the full extent of the ulcer because the blanket had stuck to her.

Nurse Helen McKenzie told the court her swab "got lost" in the wound.

"It was almost cavernous."

The elderly woman did not want to go to hospital but relented when the community doctor and nurse said they could not help.

St John Paramedics Emma Hubbard said the woman told her she had not been off the couch for years because her daughter would not help her up. She told the court, the woman wearing nappies appeared not to have showered for sometime.

She found pills stuffed down the couch that the woman refused to take.

Hubbard had to use saline to wash away the maggots and wet the blanket before separating it from the woman's leg. As the paramedics carried the woman to the ambulance, Hubbard heard Quinn tell her mother to "shut your mouth". Quinn did not go with her mother to the hospital.

The woman died 36 days later from pneumonia.

The Crown says Quinn endangered her mother's life because she did not seek timely medical care.

Quinn claims her mother was difficult and she was adhering to her wishes by not seeking medical help.

Lawyer Matt Dixon accepted the woman had health difficulties, but said there was no evidence that she was dehydrated and malnourished.

 

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