Coroner to share hospital’s best practice on rare disease

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Hospitals across the country are to receive guidelines on how to treat a rare flesh eating condition that doctors suspected had infected a Newmarket man.

Suffolk coroner, Dr Peter Dean, said he planned to write to the Chief Medical Officer, explaining the work that West Suffolk Hospital has done, after an inquest into Mick Poole’s death heard that doctors treating him suspected he had the life-threatening infection know as necrotising faciitis.

“Although this was not the cause of Michael’s death, it would be helpful to share the good work that has been done here,” said Dr Dean.

Mr Poole, 68, was a retired civil engineer, former boxing champion and Newmarket rugby player and well known in the town,

He was admitted to West Suffolk Hospital with an abscess on his neck on Tuesday, September 17.

He died five days later following emergency surgery to drain it.

Newmarket GP Dr Jeremy Webb, who visited Mr Poole at his New Cheveley Road home, told an inquest held in Bury St Edmunds on Monday: “In 26 years of practice I have never seen a neck abscess like that.

“I don’t think he realised how sick he was at the time. By the time I had examined him I was quite concerned about him.”

After the surgery it appeared Mr Poole was getting better, but a second CT scan revealed the abscess was still a threat to his life but was too dangerous to operate on.

“We would have been operating very near to the blood vessels. The chances of doing harm probably would have been higher than helping the patient, consultant Mr Fahmy, told the hearing.

As his temperature soared his condition began to deteriorate and he died early on September 22.

The inquest heard Mr Poole had a history of high blood pressure and coronary heart disease. He was a heavy smoker and was known to like a drink.

Pathologist, Julian Orrell, told the hearing a post mortem examination had revealed an enlarged heart and showed Mr Poole had died from sepsis, a poisoning bacteria affecting the whole body, as a result of the original abscess.

Recording a verdict of death by natural causes Dr Dean said: “There was clearly a very real threat to Michael’s life due to the abscess. There was a collection of pus there that would have inhibited the ability of antibiotics to function. The tragedy is that he appeared to be showing signs of improvement. But the nature of the condition is that there can be a stable period then deterioration.”