Permanent link to this item
INQUEST., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 57, 5 February 1880
An inquest was held on Tuesday on the body of Mrs. J. E. Buchanan, who died Oil the Ist February, and for which a medical certificate had not been obtained, she not having been attended at her death by a legally qualified medical practitioner. Mr. F. Guinness, B.M. acted as Coroner, and the following jury wore sworn : —Messrs. D. Williamson (foreman), George Shaw, Wm. Allison, M. hie alas, S. Hardluy, G. M. .Robinson, Win. Thom; son, J. S. Savage, G. J. Martin, Joshua Tucker, and Gundry. After the customary viewing of the body, the inquest proceeded. Sergeant Pratt declined to watch the' case on behalf of the Grown, and Mr. Buchanan stated that Mr. Branson was retained to watch the case on his helalf. J. B. Buchanan, sworn, deponed—l am am an auctioneer. Deceased was my wife. She died on February Ist. She had been ailing since the middle of December. She had been attended by Dr. Boss up to the 19th January ; when ho had ceased to attend her she was very ill. My wife had ceased to take Dr. Boss’ medicines, as she thought the quinine, brandy, and general treatment being given her made her worse. I did not consent for some time to her wishes regarding the doctor’s leaving. After the 19 th January Mr. Saunders, her father, attended her. Ho was iu attendance on her at intervals up to the day of her death ; and prescribed for her. He treated her by hydropathic methods—by warm baths, body bandages, and milk and vegetable diet. I was under the impression until Saturday night that she was getting bettex-. On Saturday evening deceased appeared to bo very distressed in her breathing. I gave her some gruel, and I remained with her all night and she seemed to get much better. She had gruel and milk every hour during the night. In the morning I went to Dr. Boss and told him how ill I thought she was, and he visited her. He administered a wine glassfull of champagne. Throughout the day she was fed as often as she could take nourishment. About half-past 7, her sister was talking to her, while my mother and myself were sittixg on the bed. Her sister washed her face and hands with warm water, and she then appeared very comfortable. Her sister then left her and I thought deceased was sleeping. My mother was sitting by her side, and I stood on the verandah. I shortly afterwards stepped in and saw my mother kneeling praying. She said something about the “ dear departed,” and I went out and called my brother. Just then Dr. Boss came, and I walked into the room with him. Ho said “ She is dead.” I felt that while her father was treating her she improved in health. On the Saturday I considered her convalescent, and I left I'er with her mother. I did not use or depend on my own judgment in this matter, or exercise axxy control over the treatment of deceased. I consented to her being treated by her father for two reasons, viz., the express desire of deceased, and her father’s undertaking the responsibility of the case unsolicited by mo. I tried every means befox’e the hydropathic treatment was resorted to. I brought a nurse fronx Christchurch xvhom deceased refused to allow to attend her. Dr. Boss only informed me iix general terms as to the illness. Deceased did not complain of a pahx in her chest after Dx - . Boss ceased his attendance. She complained of a paixx in the right arm the Friday before she died, and her father ordered a bath at a temperature of 102 degrees, and had a frame made, to be used after the bath, to support the pained arm in bed. This gave her great relief, and she did not again conxplain of this paixx. During the time she was under her father’s treatment she appeared easy the whole time, except twice, when she was relieved by the baths he ordered. Her mother, my mother, and myself nux-sed her the whole time. Her father last saw her on Friday, when he prescribed the bath. In his absence I would not have undertaken to administer any treatment. By the police—Mr. Saunders, deceased’s father, is not a legally qualified xxxedical practitioner. I was guided exxtirely by the wishes of deceased axxd her motlxcr and father. The deceased was herself a strong hydropathist, and that was the reason I so readily consented to her father's treatment. Courtenay Nedwill, M.D., sworn, said —1 made a post-mortem examination of deceased. The lower part of the small intestine was much congested. The right cavity of the chest was full of matter-. The heart was healthy, and there wore fibrous clots in the cavity of the heart. I consider the immediate cause of death the failure of the heart’s action fx-om the great effusion on the chest. The body was fairly nourished. The congested state of that part of the lower bowel was a distinctive sign of typhoid or low fever. Seeing sufficient to account for death, I made no further examination. By the police—l should not have myself used such treatment as that described by the last witness in such a case, especially with regard to the complication of the chest. I could have ascertained with certainty the existence of such a complication. By Mr. Branson—l cannot think that a refusal to consent to hydropathic treatment would have been injurious to the patient. By a juryman—l almost invariably give quinine, and sometimes brandy, in cases of typhoid fever. 1 could have accei'tained the cause of death by seeing the patient shortly before her decease. Sarah Buchanan, mother-in-law of deceased —Attended deceased when Dr. Ross left her. She was in a dangerous state. Afterwards Mr. Saunders treated her hydropathically, and she became much better. On the Saturday morning after her mother left her a change for the worse took place. We sent for Dr. Boss on the Sunday morning, and 1 suppose he was satisfied as to her complaint. He ordered nutriment, but tlxe patient had to be given it quite agaixxst her will. As far as possible the doctor’s instructions as to giving nutx-iment wore carried out. The patient died that night as the people were coming out of church. Alfred Saundex-s, sworn, said—Deceased was my daughter. I undertook the treatment of my daughter since the 17th of January last. She was suffering froxxx typhoid fever. On Dec. 24th I saw deceased at the mill. She then had a fevered skin, and weak, defective action of the heart. Dr. Ross was attendii]g fyer. I advised a warm bath gvgry day, and she did get three or four, and was well enough to go home on Saturday, December 27th. Did not see her again till 17th January, when . I heard she was suffering from typhoid fever. I xyeut at once to see her. I found her in great pain, restless, excited, and inclined to wander occasionally, with a rapid fever pulse, and principally conxplaining of suffering and extreme exhaustion, caused by forciixg milk and other things down her throat, which brought on violent and exhausting purging, extremely painful and dangerous in the feeble condition offher heart, and the diseased and painful state of her stomach. Her skin was dry, scaly, and gummy, and the temperature of her body a little over 105. Her breath was laborious, her chest heaving rapidly, and she could only get hexbreath in a certain position on her right side, not being able to lie for a moment on her left side or back. This made it impossible to pack her, as I should otherwise have done with sheets. So I sent to the mill for a large bath and got a portable boiler. I then went to see Dr. Ross, but not finding him at home, I wrote a letter, telling him 1 should treat my daughter hydropathically. I got her into a warm bath, where she was at once gx-eatly relieved, aud on getting back into
bed she went to sleep and rested better u than for sonic time before. I. kept w A warm body bandages on the whole front . of her body, covered with flannel, and j, changed every two hours, which almost entirely removed the pain from that part of her body. I put a hot bran poultice on the back of her neck, axxd cold wet cloths on her head. She never waxxdered after this, but kept her faculties remarkably clear. She was sponged over twice a day, and had a warm bath as often os the skin got too gummy to be cleaned by sponging. She spoke in the texxintuous terms of allopathic trcatnflßit, and" its failure to relieve her in the slightest degree, except by the stupefaction produced by morphia, which she know would leave her nerves in a frightful condition, and she begged me to help her by what she had so often seen so beneficial to her own children and to others. I told hex- how difficult this would be after the dx-ugs she had been taking, and with a hostile doctor and nxxrse, bxxt that I would save her from allopathic annoyances as much as I could, and get her nxothcr to come axxd nurse hex*. I instructed them xmt to give her any food unless she desired it, and not to give her any stimulant, drug, or axxy animal food, and only to give her vegetable diet of which I gave a list from which she should be supplied, axxd which I knew-,wore the safest preventatives of the fever do bo feared in typhoid. I brought up artesian water from Christclmrch, and did not allow her to drink axxy more of tho water which I considered caused the disease. I had the carpet and floorcloth removed, and the floor scrubbed frequently, axxd sent for Condy’s disinfecting fluid to scatter over the room, and used a double set 'of blankets, so as to allow of one set being aix-ed while the other was being used. Also allowed as much ventilation as .possible, owing to the hot weather. On Tuesday the temperature of her body was 100 degx-ees and next day 99 degrees. On Thursday she was quite comfortable and cheex-ful ; on Friday morning I left her still very well, cautioning her nut to get up ox- make any exertion. I returned to her on Saturday, intending merely to look in on her and go away again. I found her so much worse that I stayed with her. Her pxxlse was so weak it was extremely difficult to feel it at all. Her breathing was vex-y diflxcxxlt. A warm bath immediately relieved her breath, bxxt her pxxlse kept very low and feeble until the temperature of the atixxosphex-e changed on Monday with a change of wind, which iixxxxxediately relieved her and she recovered x-apidly. On Wednesday found my son William was ill. He resides 25 miles from Ashburton, and on learning that the sanxe fever was feared, I went off to him, but finding that it was nothing serious, I returned to Mrs. Buchanan. On Thursday evening I found that she was suffering froxxx severe pain, in the right shoulder. This was much'' relieved by contriving her bed so as to take the weight off that shoulder, as she had been constantly lying on one side. She was otherwise going on well axxd recovering some appetite, so that on Thursday and Friday I "thought her eating right enough. On Fx-iday evening I left for town, and on Saturday her mother left her, thinking her evidently improving as she felt herself to be. By the Coroner —Found the state - of her heart by feeling her pulse and sounding her heart. Deceased was kept in a hath at a 103 degrees for an hour. Knew there was somethuxg wrong with the lungs, but did not know what it was. Sergeant Pratt—Are you a properly qualified medical practitioner 1 ■ Witness—-No. But I hope I shall always be able to treat my own children in preference to employing anyone Dr. Ross deponed that he xvas a legally qxxalified medical practitioner, aud attended deceased since about Monday in Christmas week. About that time I was called in by Mr. Buchanan. I found the decased, who was then at the mill, bilious, but the sickness was not of any consequexxce, save that she had been very much weakened by prolonged nursing of her infant child. She recovered froxxx these syxxxptoms vex-y decidedly in about a week, and xvas taken to her own home. I saw her agaixx iu the course of a few days, and tit the exxd of three days I found she was suffering from typhoid fever. Tlxe case wexxt on iix the usual way without any serious complications. There had been slight congestion of the right lung, and a slight tendency to diarrhoea, but nothing to cause nxe axxy anxiety. Typhoid fever is not to be dreaded, except by its complications, but it sonxetixxxes kills by the height of the fever alone. At the end of the three -weeks during which I treated her for typhoid fever, 1 received a note from Mr. Alfred Saunders, stating that he wished to treat the case hydoropatlxir cally, and asking me not to cause the patient anv annoyance. Of course, as Mr. Saunders decided to treat the case hydropathically, I decided to withdrew from the case. In justice to myself I •asked Mr Saunders’ permission to see the patient with me before I left. He gave Ixis consexxt, and said he also wished that if any Dr. did see her, Dr. Trevor should see her. We saw her together (Dr, Trevor and I) shortly after noon on Monday, 19th January. Her condition was as it had usually been du ring the previous three weeks. Did xxot see her again until Sunday, February 1, about 12 o’clock. She xvas in an alnxost completely exhausted condition, so much so that 1 xvould not attempt to examine her save to feel her pxxlse and look at her tongue. I would not x-isk moving her body she xvas so much exhausted. I myself gave her a small xviueglassful of still chaxnpage, besides ordering a mixture of egg, xxxilk, and brandy every hoar. I then left, saying I xvoxxkl see her in the evening. Wlxen I , called in the evening she had just died. I assisted Dr. Nedxvill at the post-mortem examination, and I have heard his evidence, xvlxich I caix corroborate without reserve as x-egards the condition of the orgaxxs. The effusioxx in tlxe chest, in my opinion, xvas recent, and caused exhaustion, bringing about a failui'e of the action of tlxe heart. In consequence of the danger of moving the patient, I cannot give the immediate cause of death. I gave a certificate stating that I did not know xvhat xvas the cause of death. Warm baths—three or four—xvere administered with ixxy consent during Christmas week. 105 degx-ees is a high temperature, even for typhoid foxier. I have heard the evidence of the hydropathic treatment. I have had no personal experience of hydropathy. The Coroner—State your opinion of xvhat xvould be the x-esult to a person in ■ typhoid fever of being placed in a bath qf 102 degrees temperature, aud left there for an hour. Witness—The question of the use of baths in such cases is a moot one xvith medical men, and it is not mine to say but the bath would xxot be used by nxedical men as it has been used in this case. Typhoid fever has usually a fixed period of duration, and the patient was in the normal state that the fever xvould reach xvhen I left her. The complications I have referred to did not then exist. Mr. Saunders’ • treatment was entirely opposed to my own—mine being lax-ge qxxantities of fluid nourishmexxt, including quinine and stimulants, while his xvas what we call low diet. Low diet xvould not be conducive to the recovery of the patiexxt. I don’t say it would be injurious. Had I examined the chest of deceased on Suxxday morning last, I could have readily ascertained the presence of effusion in the chest. • By Mr. Branson—lt would have been harmful to the patient to have pex-sistently opposed her wishes, and she desired to be tx-eated by her father. In fact my ‘ treat* ( ment xvas persistently disregarded' by de- \ ceased. ' - x ; i .’m;" .oh 1 . .r 1: -i-J ! ; J;' -s, 'iliki-:' nikj
Dr. Trevor, sworn—The only time I saw deceased was on January 19, ■alien I visited her at the request of Dr. Ross, who stated he was giving up treatment of the case at the request of her father, and wished me to see the state in which he (Dr. Ross) had left the patient. Understood the visit was at Mr. Saunders’ request. Mrs. Buchanan was suffering from typhoid fever —not a very severe attack. She was rather weak, but there were no complications in the case, of which I formed a favorable opinion, and expressed it to the relatives of deceased. With reto the treatment by Mr. Saundex’S "of the deceased, Ido not agx - ee with it, burl have no personal experience of hydropathy. Baths are used by medical men in cases of fever, but not of the kixxd made use of by Mi - . Saundex's. The dietary system described by Mr. Samplers I do not as a whole agree with. I consider- it is deficient in nourishing and stimulating qualities. By Mr. Branson —Persistent refxxsal to grant the deceased’s request to be treated by her father would have had an injurious effect upon her in the state she was then in. The Coroner, in addressing the jury, said they wex - e called upon to decide what was the cause of the death. That could be very easily arrived at from the evidence of the medical men who made the post mortem examination. It was also for them to say whether the medical treatment to which the deceased had been subjected had been of a proper description. The evidence showed that up to the 19th January the patient had been under a properly qualified practitioner, and the I’omaining days of her life she had been under the hydropathic treatment of her father. It was for the jury to say whether the first mode of treatment would have been more likely to have kept her alive if it had been followed than the one which was adopted. The Coroner then recounted the law on the subject, and the jury retired to consider their verdict, which, after about half an hour’s deliberation, was as follows :—“ We find that deceased died from natural causes, but add as a rider that we strongly disappi’ove of other than properly qualified men undertaking the conduct of serious cases.”
INQUEST., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 57, 5 February 1880
See our copyright guide for information on how you may use this title.
Papers Past now contains more than just newspapers. Use these links to navigate to other kinds of materials.
These links will always show you how deep you are in the collection. Click them to get a broader view of the items you're currently viewing.
Enter names, places, or other keywords that you're curious about here. We'll look for them in the fulltext of millions of articles.
Browsed to an interesting page? Click here to search within the item you're currently viewing, or start a new search.
Use these buttons to limit your searches to particular dates, titles, and more.
Switch between images of the original document and text transcriptions and outlines you can cut and paste.
Print, save, zoom in and more.
If you'd rather just browse through documents, click here to find titles and issues from particular dates and geographic regions.
The "Help" link will show you different tips for each page on the site, so click here often as you explore the site.