Family puzzled by widow’s rapid death

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A FIT and active 90-year-old widow died in hospital just four days after an operation for a broken hip, an inquest heard yesterday.

Charlotte Tocher, who suffered from type 2 diabetes, gave no cause for anxiety to doctors at first but deteriorated rapidly within her last 48 hours.

Dr Fiona Creagh, a consultant physician at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital, said she believed Mrs Tocher had suffered an acute kidney failure, probably due to a reduced dietary intake.

Her family are now asking how she could have declined so quickly and died.

Mrs Tocher’s daughter Judith told the Sheffield hearing her mother did all her own household chores and was still driving.

She said: “She had a sharp mind and dealt with her own finances.

“She was frightened of becoming senile so did the crossword every day and went to Scrabble evenings.”

The great-grandmother, who lived in a retirement complex off Ecclesall Road, was discharged from hospital on May 12, 2010 but had a fall and was readmitted.

She had surgery for a hip fracture and recovered well but there was a “huge deterioration” in her condition and she died on May 17.

Her medical records showed she was remarkably fit for a 90-year-old.

Mrs Tocher had been admitted to hospital on April 25 with abdominal swelling but she was later discharged as medically fit.

She was seen by a specialist registrar on Friday May 14 when she had a normal kidney function but, two days later, she suffered the first of a series of hypoglycaemic episodes due to low blood sugar.

Mrs Tocher’s condition deteriorated quickly and further tests showed she had acute renal failure.

Asked by assistant deputy coroner Professor Robbie Forest whether she was surprised at the rapid decline Dr Creagh replied: “I am, to be honest.”

She said it was the kidney failure which was more likely to have contributed to her death than the hypoglycaemic episodes.

When asked what caused the kidney failure she said it was likely to have been a combination of factors, such as low blood pressure and not getting enough to eat and drink.

The hearing continues.