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More tests may have saved life: coroner

13:51 Tue Apr 10 2012

A woman sent home from hospital after being diagnosed with a stomach bug may not have died 13 days later if the true cause of her abdominal pain was identified at the outset, a coroner has ruled.

Wellington regional coroner Ian Smith says in his report into the death of 59-year-old Lower Hutt woman Katherine Cains on Boxing Day in 2010 that more testing may have found the peritonitis that would eventually lead to her death.

"Early intervention may have saved Ms Cains' life," he said in his findings.

Mr Smith also pointed out the concerns of the family over a lack of communication from medical staff about her condition.

Ms Cains, who had other health issues, went to Hutt Hospital on December 13 with abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting and was sent home that day after an initial diagnosis of gastroenteritis.

She returned to hospital five days later with similar symptoms and a scan showed signs of peritonitis and she underwent surgery.

After the operation she was monitored in the intensive care unit before being transferred to a general ward where she died a week later.

Mr Smith said Ms Cains died from an abdominal infection.