No liability in freak death

2008-01-15 00:00

The main finding into the probable cause of death of a man who died in a Pietermaritzburg private hospital after a routine operation was revealed by a magistrate yesterday.

State advocate Glen Webber (39), who died in hospital shortly after undergoing a shoulder operation, had a hypoxic (shortage of oxygen in body tissue) event of unknown origin.

This was the main finding of magistrate Brad Osborne, who presided over an inquest into Webber’s death in Medi-Clinic Hospital in March 2002.

A postmortem finding shortly after he died found the cause was hypoxia associated with possible other causes.

Osborne did not ascribe any criminal responsibility to anyone and he exonerated specialist anaesthesiologist Dr J.R. Bhagwan, who cared for Webber before and after his shoulder operation.

Osborne made an open, that is, non-committal finding in regard to the hospital.

Webber was described as moderately obese, weighing 89 kg and was on medication for hypertension and asthma.

Before his operation, he had slipped and fallen on the wet driveway of his home when he had gone outside to meet a fast-food delivery man. In the fall, a muscle was torn from a bone and was reattached during the operation.

Webber’s widow, Karen, told the inquest that seven hours after being told that Glen was doing fine, she was phoned by the hospital to say that he had just died.

She had left the hospital at about 8.10 pm after the operation and had phoned to inquire about his condition at about 10 pm. She was told then that he was doing well.

The next day at about 5 am, a hospital employee phoned her to tell her that her husband had just died.

Karen Webber said that while he was recovering from the operation, he was perspiring so much that the sweat ran down his neck. She had dried it with tissues.

He also complained of pain and nausea and was treated for both.

A nurse who testified said that she did not notice him sweating profusely.

Shortly before his death, Webber received death threats, probably from the connections of an alleged murderer he was prosecuting.

The couple have a son.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.