Wollongong Hospital has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the case of an elderly disabled woman who died four days after being admitted.
Long-term House with No Steps resident Anne Mountford died on January 29, 2011, several days after she was taken to the hospital with a heavily distended abdomen and nausea.
Hospital staff noticed the 68-year-old had an elevated and irregular heart rate while a CT scan, performed on January 26, showed a massive amount of faeces in her colon, which was compressing her other organs.
Ms Mountford's colonic function improved but her heart condition continued to deteriorate. On January 29, she suffered a cardiac arrest and died.
An autopsy showed Ms Mountford, who suffered from several conditions including Down syndrome and chronic constipation, had signs of heart disease - a fact unknown to any of her doctors.
The autopsy also showed Ms Mountford's bowel contained between six and 6.5 kilograms of faecal matter.
Deputy State Coroner Geraldine Beattie yesterday made no adverse findings against Wollongong Hospital or Ms Mountford's GP and psychiatrist, finding the woman had died of heart disease.
She told the Coroner's Court that Ms Mountford had been adequately cared for during her hospital stay and appropriate treatment plans had been implemented.
She also found the woman's constipation had not caused or contributed to her death.
Ms Beattie declined to make any recommendations about the House with No Steps' (HWNS) management of Ms Mountford's constipation.
An inquest into the woman's death heard earlier this week that several staff had noticed Ms Mountford's swollen abdomen around Christmas 2010, which had since raised questions as to why medical advice was not sought earlier.
"With the benefit of hindsight and the knowledge of Ms Mountford's severe faecal loading, [it] is clear medical attention could have been sought sooner," Ms Beattie said yesterday.
"However, given my finding on cause of death, it is unlikely to have prevented Ms Mountford's death."
Ms Beattie noted HWNS management had reviewed its operations after Ms Mountford's death and had made several changes including the introduction of bowel charts for clients taking constipation medication.