Doctor blamed over woman's liposuction death

By court reporter Candice Marcus, ABC Updated November 1, 2012, 3:42 pm

A woman who died after a liposuction procedure contracted a rare gangrene infection from a surgical instrument, a coroner has found.

Lauren Michelle Edgar, 28, died in hospital five days after having liposuction on her stomach and thighs.

She went to a clinic in Melbourne Street in North Adelaide in 2008.

The inquest heard surgeon Dr George Kerry prescribed Ms Edgar strong painkillers when she contacted him after the surgery to say she was in significant pain.

In his findings, Deputy Coroner Anthony Schapel concluded Dr Kerry should have been more concerned about Ms Edgar's welfare and arranged a follow-up appointment promptly after the surgery.

He said that could have led to an earlier hospital admission.

"I find that the information that she did give Dr Kerry about pain, her desire to remove the corset for that reason and her stated need for stronger analgesic medication should have generated significant concern in Dr Kerry's mind about her welfare," the Deputy Coroner said.

"I find that if Dr Kerry had examined Ms Edgar on the Friday afternoon, her condition at that point in time was such that Dr Kerry should have immediately referred Ms Edgar to hospital."

Mr Schapel found the organism that caused the rare and deadly infection was introduced during the procedure.

"The evidence suggested that gas gangrene in a very rare condition, but as seen earlier its association with liposuction has been recorded," he said.

"The infection, once contracted, can have devastating and rapid consequences, thus in liposuction procedures the proper and effective sterilisation of instruments, of the patient's skin and of the environment in which the procedure is to take place is essential."

"If a clostridium infection is contracted early detection, diagnosis and treatment by a number of different treatment modalities is of paramount importance."

He said the infection was probably from an instrument used during suturing and closing of the five incisions.

"The most likely explanation out of all competing explanations is that the micro-organism was picked up by an instrument from the skin surface of Ms Edgar," he said.