Burns victim refused medical treatment

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A badly-burnt woman died after initially refusing medical help on religious grounds.

But an inquest held at St Helens Town Hall heard that an earlier medical intervention was still unlikely to have saved Linda Mercer’s life.

Mrs Mercer, 60, who had a host of medical problems, sustained a burn to her abdomen and the tops of her thighs while at home in Billinge on February 14 last year.

It is believed the fire which caused the burns may have been sparked by a lit cigarette.

Despite suffering the painful injury, Mrs Mercer refused to go to hospital and was only admitted to Whiston Hospital two days later after her husband, Terry, called an out of hours doctor.

She was found to be dangerously dehydrated and was immediately admitted to an intensive care ward.

Mrs Mercer then refused a blood transfusion on religious grounds - despite suffering a decreasing blood count and blood clot disorder, and showing signs of renal failure.

Sadly, she failed to respond to treatment and was pronounced dead at 7.30am on February 17.

A subsequent investigation found that Mrs Mercer, of Carr Mill Road, had been effectively housebound due to a catalogue of medical difficulties.

She suffered from ischemic heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and had undergone a coronary artery bypass operation in 2011.

She had also previously been treated for a haemorrhage and was on medication for hypertension and other conditions. She was also known to use alcohol and showed signs of liver cirrhosis due to alcohol-induced hepatitis.

A post-mortem examination found that the large burn had affected three parts of her body - her abdomen and the tops of both thighs.

A plastic surgeon reported that earlier medical intervention was “unlikely” to have enhanced Mrs Mercer’s survival chances because of the severity of the injury.

A pathologist recorded the medical cause of death as “multi-organ failure due to burn with sepsis and pulmonary thromboembolism”. He also cited heart disease and cirrhosis.

Verdict: Accidental death.