Mother devastated over allegations of hospital error

Kate Clayton died as “direct result” of failed surgical procedure, U.K. coroner rules


The mother of a British dive industry worker said she was “devastated but relieved” following a coroner’s verdict that her daughter died as a result of a failed procedure at the Cayman Islands Hospital. 

Kate Clayton, 30, who worked at Tortuga Divers in East End, suffered extensive injuries in a car accident in North Side on Jan. 11.  

She was flown back to the U.K. on Feb. 8 after her family chartered an air ambulance but died at Southampton General Hospital 10 days later. 

A British coroner’s ruling on Monday indicates that the injuries sustained in the accident did not directly result in her death. 

The coroner said Ms. Clayton’s death was caused by a failed procedure, carried out in Cayman, to insert a breathing tube into her windpipe that left her brain starved of oxygen for up to eight minutes.  

Her mother Jo Clayton, who gave evidence at the inquest Monday, said she was devastated by what had happened but relieved that the truth about her daughter’s death had come out. 

“Our suspicions have been completely confirmed by the doctors and by the coroner,” she told the Cayman Compass. “Nothing will bring back Kate, but I’m happy that the truth is now on the public record.” 

Central Hampshire Assistant Coroner Sarah Whitby, in a written conclusion supplied to the Compass following Monday’s Coroner’s Court hearing, recorded, “On Jan 11, 2015, the deceased Kate Laura Louise Clayton was seriously injured in a road traffic accident on the Grand Cayman Island. 

“Miss Clayton was treated at the Cayman Islands Hospital for spinal fractures, pelvic and bowel injuries and in the course of treatment had a failed tracheostomy procedure where the procedure and its management prevented oxygen reaching Miss Clayton’s brain for a period of at least eight minutes resulting in a hypoxic brain injury. 

“Miss Clayton’s subsequent death on Feb. 18, 2015 having been transferred to Southampton General Hospital was as a direct result of the failed tracheostomy which evidence indicates was inadequately carried out.” 

Lizzette Yearwood, chief executive officer of the Health Services Authority of the Cayman Islands, said she had not seen the coroner’s report and could not comment. 

She declined to say what investigations were taking place in Cayman and what disciplinary action, if any, had been taken.  

She said, “The HSA would like to reassure the public that we take matters of this nature very seriously and we extend our continuing sympathy to the family of Kate.” 

According to several British news reports of the inquest, corroborated by Jo Clayton in an interview with the Compass, she told the coroner her daughter’s condition had been improving after the accident, prior to the tracheostomy. 

Mrs. Clayton, who flew out to Grand Cayman to be at her daughter’s bedside, said Kate, who was partially paralyzed in the initial crash, had been conscious and communicative, even regaining some feeling in her legs. 

She said she had been shocked to see her condition worsen after what she had presumed would be a routine procedure. 

The inquest also heard from a neurosurgeon at Southampton General Hospital who had access to medical records on Ms. Clayton. A report from Southampton General Hospital gave the medical cause of death as hypoxic brain injury caused by a failed percutaneous tracheostomy, citing multiple injuries from the road traffic collision as the secondary cause. 

Ms. Clayton, who worked at Tortuga Divers in Grand Cayman, was seriously injured after her Jeep Wrangler careered off the road and collided with a tree on Jan. 11.  


Kate Clayton

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