Wednesday, November 2, 2011

721. Expert questions autopsy findings: liposuction death

Dr Stephen Leadbeatter, foerensic pathologist, Cardiff University, Wales Institute of Forensic Medicine told a coroner's enquiry into the liposuction death. He said that based on the available info, he could not ascertain which aspect of the operation caused the death of Mr Franklin Heng. He was the expert witness for Dr Jim Wong, a GP who carried out the procedure.

Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said the death was caused by mulltiple punctures in the intestines due to the liposuction. HSA consultant forensic pathologist said the holow steel tube used could have caused the patient to go into shock and died.

Dr leadbeatter's points for the defence are:
1. He saw images from the autopsy, but said it was unclear whether the puncture wounds had gone fully into the intestines.
2. He saw no signs of peritonitis, the thin lining of the peritoneal cavity. If there was full puncture, the intestinal contents would have spilled out of the intestines into the peritoneum.
3. Lack of info about the description of any intestinal contents in the peritoneal cavity
4. Lack of microscopy to determine peritonitis
5. Another possible cause of death could be fat emboism - fat entering the blood stream into the lungs and brain. He had seen only slides of the b rain, not other organs.
6. Mr Heng could have difficulty breathing from an allergic reaction. This issue was not addressed in the blood taken.
7. Propofol used as a sedative could have contributed to the death according to the autopsy report.
But Dr Leadbeatter said the concentration of drug in the blood after death might not correctly be the same amount at the time of death.

In my reading of the report, there was no info as to whether peritonitis was present or not present and it seemed that the intestinal punctures did not go into the full thickness of the intestines. Will follow up.

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