UPDATE: Open verdict in hospital death case

A jury returned an open verdict Thursday in the case of Lisa Turner, a popular, long-term Cayman Islands resident, who died days after undergoing a relatively routine surgery.

The verdict, following a three-day inquest, means the jury could not determine, on the basis of the evidence, the precise cause of Ms. Turner’s death. There was no evidence of any injury caused by the surgery that would have led to the septic shock she suffered in the days that followed and that ultimately led to her death.

The coroner’s jury heard that the 61-year-old, originally from Canada but a resident in Cayman for more than 20 years, had undergone surgery to remove an ovarian cyst at the Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital on Feb. 10 this year.

The doctor and medical team involved in the surgery described it as successful and she was able to be discharged the same day. She developed a fever over the weekend, however, and was readmitted to the private hospital Sunday evening before being transferred to the Cayman Islands Hospital as her condition worsened.

Doctors concluded she was suffering from sepsis or septic shock, a life-threatening reaction to infection. They were unable to operate because her blood platelet count was too low, making surgery too dangerous.

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An air ambulance transfer to Florida was arranged but she suffered a cardiac arrest before she could be flown off island and was readmitted to the Cayman Islands Hospital, where she died the next morning.

A pathologist’s report gave the cause of death as “complications following a left ovarian cystectomy and saplingectomy” – an operation to remove a cyst and fallopian tube.

Summing up the evidence for the jury, Coroner Eileen Nervik said there was no evidence that the doctors involved had been anything other than attentive and appropriate.

“Many doctors tried to save her life. Everybody acted professionally, some may say heroically,” she said.

She said there was no evidence of any internal injury caused by the initial surgery and no evidence of any underlying illness.

Ms. Turner worked at International Design Group and was a familiar face at World Gym on West Bay Road. She had lived in the Cayman Islands for 25 years. Following her death in February, friends told the Compass she was a bright and vibrant woman who made an impression on everyone she met.

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