Friday 19 October 2018
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Died after denture removal

An 87-year-old woman died after having a denture that was embedded into her mouth surgically removed, a fatal accident inquiry has heard.

Elizabeth McGaw died in February 2007 following the procedure at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.

The inquiry, at Glasgow Sheriff Court, heard she was admitted from Heatherbank care home, Balornock, in December 2006.

A post-mortem examination later showed the cause of her death to be heart disease and dementia.

Mrs McGaw, who was known as Betty, was admitted to hospital after swelling from her chin to her chest spread across her throat, and she was not allowing anyone to feed her.


A badly infected denture that was embedded in her mouth for some time was surgically removed.

Her daughter Sylvia Miller, 63, gave evidence at the inquiry and described her mother as "happy-go-lucky" and always willing to help anybody.

The hearing was told the mother-of-three had two falls during her time at the care home, which was then run by Southern Cross Healthcare, after arriving in November 2005.

Mrs Miller told the hearing that for a couple of months leading up to her mother's hospital admission she noticed her teeth and tongue were discoloured.

She said she raised her concerns with care home staff, but was told it was the tablets her mother was taking.

The inquiry heard that Mrs McGaw was diagnosed in December 2006 with a urine infection and that she never fully recovered.

Mrs Miller said that her mother's health then went downhill, and she seemed "awful poorly" and was lethargic.

She said: "I had gone up on Christmas Eve and I had asked if a doctor could be called and they said the doctor wasn't back until the 27th."

Mrs Miller said that on Christmas Day her mother was in bed by 16:00.

'Filthy' mouth

The inquiry heard that a couple of days later a doctor examined Mrs McGaw's mouth and described it as "grotty and filthy" and that she needed to see a dentist.

Mrs Miller said that when she and her husband visited her mother on 27 December, they were asked to leave the room and that she heard a "sort of yelling".

She said the nurse came out of the room holding a plastic bag full of dressing covered in blood.

The inquiry heard that on 28 December, Mrs McGaw was admitted to the Southern General where she subsequently had her top denture removed from her mouth and was even fed some soup.

Mrs Miller said it was "wonderful" that she had some soup but that she then refused to have anyone go near her again and would not eat.

She said she took her mother's denture - that had been bleached - with her from the hospital as evidence and took photographs of it.

The inquiry was told that following the removal of the denture, Mrs McGaw was given fluids through her arm and ankle and eventually her side before she passed away.

Daughter 'horrified'

It was heard that on Hogmanay 2006, Mrs Miller received a phone call from the hospital to say they wanted to discharge her mother back to the care home.

Mrs Miller said: "I was horrified, I couldn't believe it. I said they will need to give us a chance to get our head round what's happened."

She added that she said she did not want her mother returning to the care home.

Mrs McGaw was moved to Ward 57 in the Southern General where she remained until her death.

Procurator fiscal depute Kay Potter put to Mrs Miller that her mother's death was nothing to do with the problems of not cleaning her teeth or dentures.

Mrs Miller said: "Absolutely not."