Fall contributed to death, inquest reveals

Budleigh Salterton grandmother of three Ruth Ohna Falby died from complications following a fall, an inquest has heard.

An inquest has heard how a Budleigh Salterton grandmother of three died from complications following a fall.

Seventy-five-year-old Ruth Ohna Falby, of Granary Lane, was born on March 11, 1943, in Brooklyn, New York, and died on February 24, 2010, at Wonford Hospital, Exeter.

The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death, after a pathologist report revealed pneumonia, a fractured rib and a laceration of her right lung were the cause of death.

Dr Elizabeth Earland, sitting at Exeter’s County Hall, said: “I am satisfied on the evidence that at approximately 5.30pm on February 12, she fell on the kitchen floor, injuring her right hip and fracturing her right seventh and eighth ribs.

“She died from complications of that fall, so my verdict, on the balance of probability, is accidental death.”

The inquest heard how on February 12, 2010, Ruth’s husband, Jed – retired district councillor - had discovered his wife lying on the kitchen floor.

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He had been unloading his car when he heard mother-of-two Ruth scream from indoors.

She insisted he help her into a chair before he called for an ambulance. Later she collapsed in Jed’s arms.

The inquest heard she was unable to explain to medics how or why she had fallen.

The previous day Ruth had fallen down several stairs at home.

When she was admitted to hospital, surgery on her right femur was planned, but postponed as her health deteriorated.

She was admitted to a high dependency unit, showing signs of acute respiratory failure and she was put on a ventilator.

The inquest heard the pensioner showed a slight improvement, but her condition remained critical.

Ruth’s breathing deteriorated when attempts were made to remove the ventilator.

A CAT scan revealed fluid on her right lung and a chest drain was considered, although doctors said the prognosis was uncertain.

When the procedure was carried out, medics drained off 2.6 litres of blood stained fluid and noticed some improvement to Ruth’s breathing.

The inquest heard how, on February 23, Ruth’s health deteriorated and her heart beat became irregular.

Husband Jed told doctors he believed his wife ‘just wanted to go’.

Ruth said she wanted to be kept comfortable and didn’t want to continue with her life.

Ventilation was discontinued, she was given morphine and died the following day.

Medics said Ruth’s outlook had been ‘poor’ and the development of pneumonia was a ‘terminal event’.

The inquest heard she succumbed to pneumonia as a result of a fractured hip and ribs, coupled with her underlying illnesses.

Contributing to her death, but not causing it, was a fracture of her right femur, Parkinson’s disease and pulmonary disease, medics said.