A retired chartered accountant died from septic shock after having a wobbly tooth removed at the dentist, an inquest heard.
Norman Harrison, of Heath Road in Upton, died at the Countess of Chester Hospital on January 2 last year, having developed a life-threatening infection.
Mr Harrison’s wife Margaret told the inquest at Chester Magistrates Court on Thursday (March 12) that he had been complaining of a loose tooth over the 2013 Christmas period. She said it was not hurting him, ‘just annoying him’.
Mr Harrison, who was 77 when he died, went to Allandale Dental Practice in Hoole on December 30, where his dentist Dr Peter Miller removed the tooth.
Dr Miller said he saw Mr Harrison as an emergency appointment and found the tooth to be extremely loose.
He said the procedure was perfectly ‘straight-forward’ and that Mr Harrison’s gum did not seem particularly inflamed or swollen.
Mrs Harrison said the couple went home and had a lazy afternoon but that her husband told her he had a sore throat at around 10pm.
She said he went to bed an hour later but had a very ‘disturbed night’, shivering and requiring help to get out of bed.
The couple went to see their GP the following morning, December 31, and were told to go to A&E immediately.
Mrs Harrison said her husband’s tongue was ‘swollen, red and bending backwards’ by this point.
The inquest heard that Dr Mona Fung, a registrar in emergency medicine at the Countess of Chester Hospital, initially diagnosed Mr Harrison as suffering from an allergic reaction.
Dr Fung said that he was not displaying any symptoms of infection – such as shivering, swelling or a high temperature – when she examined him.
Mr Harrison developed a swelling on his neck and underwent an emergency procedure later that evening to keep his airway open.
Dr Santokh Singh, consultant in critical care at the Countess of Chester Hospital, said Mr Harrison was diagnosed with septic shock on January 1, 2014, the morning after he was admitted to hospital.
It was identified he was suffering from Group A strep and three types of antibiotic were prescribed.
Mr Harrison’s condition deteriorated further, however, and he passed away in the early hours of January 2 last year.
Dr Singh added that he could not think of ‘anything more that we could have done’.
“Clearly this was a very aggressive infection and despite treating it with the right antibiotics, unfortunately we were not able to save him,” he said.
Dr Ian Wild, a dentist asked to attend the hearing as an expert witness, said group A streptococcal infections were unpredictable.
“It is not a common event but it can occur.
Dr Wild said that, in his opinion, the procedure on Mr Harrison was carried out in a ‘normal and acceptable fashion’.
Dr Wild said one in 33,000 will develop an invasive group A streptococcal infection following a dental extraction and that of those one quarter might be expected to die.
Dr Wild believed that its source was a gum infection in Mr Harrison’s mouth.
A review by the Countess of Chester Hospital into Mr Harrison’s death also asserted that the most likely source of the infection was a bacteria already in the gum.
Consultant histopathologist Dr William Kenyon, who carried out the post-mortem examination, said he believed the source of the ‘extremely virulent’ infection was the tooth socket.
He added: “Any manipulation of the tooth can cause bacteria to get into the bloodstream.”
Assistant coroner for Cheshire Dr Geoff Roberts accepted the cause of death as septic shock caused by streptococcal infection, which was caused by dental extraction.
Dr Roberts, who described the treatment Mr Harrison received as ‘entirely appropriate’, recorded a verdict of misadventure.
“The death was an unintended outcome of an intentional procedure,” he said.