Woman (91) died of sepsis after leg scalded with tea

Daphne Anderson sustained third degree burns to 6% of her body, inquest hears

A 91-year-old Dublin woman developed sepsis after being scalded by tea that spilled on her lap during a lunch outing to a hotel, an inquest has heard.

The inquest into the death of Daphne Anderson was previously adjourned after her daughter, Audrey Anderson, called for the exhumation of her body and a fresh postmortem.

Dublin Coroner's Court heard that Daphne Anderson, of Offington Lawn, Sutton, sustained third degree burns to 6 per cent of her body after she was scalded on November 30th, 2015 but did not immediately report it.

She ate dinner that evening and was examined by a GP the following day, who found she had marked skin, blisters and oozing on her upper thigh area.


She was admitted to the Bons Secours Hospital in Dublin on December 1st and was transferred two days later to a specialist burns unit at St James’s Hospital.

She was treated with antibiotics and intravenous fluids and her condition improved until December 14th, when she began to deteriorate rapidly after she developed a perforated colon. She died on December 18th.

The inquest was adjourned on March 8th because Audrey Anderson asked for an independent postmortem following the alteration of results during the previous inquest hearing.

Updated cause

Dr Máirín McMenamin, a consultant histopathologist, reviewed the records and delivered an updated cause of death to the court - intra-abdominal sepsis and colon perforation due to diverticular disease and toxigenic clostridium difficile (C.diff) infection as a consequence of burns to the perineal area in a patient treated with antibiotics.

Contributory factors included cardiac problems and an impaired immune system, she said. “In my opinion if she had not received the burns she would not have died at this time.”

Audrey Anderson instructed her legal team to make the court aware if her preference was for a verdict of medical misadventure, which she claimed was “more accurate”.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane noted this but returned a narrative verdict setting out the circumstances of Mrs Anderson's death.

“I cannot ignore the fact of the burns, they are placed high in the sequencing of death causation,” the coroner said.