Leicester

Woman died after swallowing 8in table knife

Suzanne Johnston Image copyright PA
Image caption Suzanne Johnston died from multiple organ failure two months after swallowing the knife

A woman in a mental health hospital died after swallowing an 8in (20cm) table knife, an inquest has heard.

Suzanne Johnston told staff at the Sturdee Community Hospital in Eyres Monsell, Leicester, she had swallowed a knife on 4 January.

However, the inquest heard her risk level remained low because she showed "no signs of pain or discomfort". The 41-year-old died two months later.

A Leicester Coroner's Court jury found Ms Johnston died by misadventure.

They were told the blade had been in her stomach too long for surgery to be successful and she eventually died on 9 March.

The cause of death was given in court as multi-organ failure caused by sepsis due to a perforated gastric wall. She was also described as having emotionally unstable personality disorder.

'Attention-seeking sensationalist'

The inquest heard that after telling staff what she had done, Ms Johnston, who had a history of self harm, then changed her story to say she had not actually swallowed a knife.

The jury also had heard evidence suggesting Ms Johnston's behaviour was "exaggerated", "sensationalist" and "attention-seeking".

Scottish-born Ms Johnston had complained she was feeling "wheezy" and had a cough, which led the hospital to send her to a GP.

The GP gave her a referral note to say she should have an X-ray but she failed to tell anyone about it despite having "ample opportunity" to do so, said coroner Dianne Hocking.

She subsequently did not have one and consultant surgeon, Dr Robert Williams, said the way the knife was lodged in her stomach meant it could have been there for weeks.

Dr Albert Chelliah, the group operations director for Inmind Healthcare, who run the hospital, said: "We have devised new systems and protocols so that anything like this doesn't happen again."

He added that the group would ensure that anyone who ingests a foreign body is taken for an X-ray.

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