IV line kills woman in Christchurch
A grieving husband hopes a coroner's inquest this week will ensure Christchurch Hospital will not repeat the mistake that killed his wife.
Tracey-Jane Havill-Nelson died aged 52 on June 23, 2012, after an intravenous line inserted by staff at Christchurch Hospital pierced her heart, causing a fatal build-up of fluid around the organ.
"I believe there are issues that need to be raised . . . so that other people don't have to die from the same thing," husband Keith Nelson said.
Coroner Richard McElrea will hold an inquest at the Christchurch District Court on Thursday into Havill-Nelson's death.
Havill-Nelson suffered from hereditary arthritis and severe endometriosis. She had 27 operations in the 25 years she was married to Nelson, including four hip replacements and having both shoulders replaced.
She had also been seriously injured in a plane crash near Dunedin, in which one person was killed, when she was 17. Havill-Nelson suffered serious spine, head and leg injuries, but gained a new appreciation for life.
"She basically believed she was being drawn to a bright light, but was told it's not your time yet and was drawn back," Nelson said.
Havill-Nelson was unable to work but volunteered regularly with the Citizens Advice Bureau in Rangiora.
She enjoyed living in rural North Canterbury and loved visiting friends in nearby Amberley.
"She was an outgoing, bubbly person. She enjoyed dancing when she could. In the later years that was getting more difficult because of pain levels," her husband said.
A surgeon told her she needed to lose weight, but her arthritis made it difficult for her to exercise.
She underwent a stomach stapling operation in November 2011, but experienced ongoing nausea and had hospital treatment for dehydration on June 14, 2012.
She had a peripherally inserted central catheter (or PICC line) put into her body. It moved and pierced her heart, causing a fatal build-up of fluid around her heart.
"The hardest part for me was telling her dad, who is in a rest home. That was actually the toughest thing I'd ever done," Nelson said.
He was told he would get answers about what happened to his wife within six weeks, and although the hospital completed an internal report, he was still waiting for someone to be held accountable.
"It shouldn't have happened," he said.
"Apart from the PICC line penetrating the heart, Tracey was in good health. Her heart and lungs were normal."
He believed several people at the hospital should have been able to prevent his wife's death, but that some of the problems were "systematic".
- The Press
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