28 year old woman with an ectopic pregnancy dies of a heart attack after waiting two hours for an ambulance to arrive
Sabrina Stevenson, who did not know she was pregnant, had been complaining of abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting and desperately called 999 from her home in north London.
An inquest held earlier this year heard that she had told her flatmate she wasn't feeling well and after getting worse throughout the day, called for an ambulance at 6.30pm.
But a coroner told the court a series of 'inappropriate decisions, missed opportunities and system failures' meant that paramedics didn't arrive until 10.30pm and she died an hour later.
The call came on the day after 'Black Friday', the last weekend before Christmas, and when ambulance crews are traditionally busier.
Her distraught mother, Dawn Coventry, 50, has now slammed the London Ambulance Service for the delay, which the coroner said contributed to her death.
Mrs Coventry, a practice manager for a legal firm in Rayleigh, Essex, said: 'For me as a mother, it is horrific to know how she was treated in her final hours.
'The inquest proved that if they had acted properly then we would still have Sabrina with us today.'
Her stepfather Gary Coventry, 47, a practitioner of Chinese medicine, explained that she had been out on the Saturday night and had a couple of drinks but felt unwell the next day.
'No one knew she was pregnant - she hadn't told anyone so we think she may not have even known herself,' he said.
Symptoms of ectopic pregnancies, in which a fertilised egg develops outside of the womb, can occasionally go unnoticed but tend to include vaginal bleeding and mild to severe abdominal pain.
The inquest heard how Miss Stevenson's flatmate had called for an ambulance on December 16, 2012, after she had suffered abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting throughout the day.
The 999 was wrongly assessed resulting in no ambulance being sent until a call back prompted the incident to be upgraded for ambulance response within 30 minutes.
That half an hour target was missed and one hour after the original 999 call an ambulance was dispatched.
The requested ambulance crew then rejected the call as the ambulance was part of a trial in which staff would refuse patients presenting symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting.
When crews arrived two hours after the original call, they struggled to assess Miss Stevenson's condition and delayed taking her to hospital due to problems with removing her from the flat.
Miss Stevenson suffered a catastrophic collapse whilst in the carry chair and then a cardiac arrest as she was rushed to hospital.
She arrived at the accident and emergency department at 10.40pm but was declared dead at 11.24pm.
The coroner recorded a narrative verdict, blaming a number of failures - accumulating in neglect - for her death.
Dr Richard Brittain, assistant coroner for Inner London North, said: 'A series of inappropriate decisions, missed opportunities, clinical failures and system failures, resulted in delayed transportation to hospital several hours later, at a point when she was in a state of cardiac arrest.
'I heard evidence that, had Sabrina arrived in the emergency department prior to cardiac arrest, it is likely she would have received operative treatment. This would, on balance of probabilities, have saved her life.
'There were multiple factors which added to the complexity and difficulty of transporting Sabrina to hospital.
'With that in mind, it is my judgment none of the individual failings in isolation meet the test required to find neglect.
'However, cumulatively, I judge that these failures do amount to neglect which, together with the consequences of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, caused Sabrina's death.'
THE DEADLY COMPLICATION: WHAT IS AN ECTOPIC PREGNANCY?
In normal pregnancies, a fertilised egg implants itself in the lining of the womb where it grows and develops.
But in an ectopic pregnancy, the egg implants itself in the fallopian tube – which leads from the ovary to the womb. In rarer cases it implants itself in the abdominal cavity or an ovary.
Around one in 60 to one in 80 pregnancies are ectopic – and in the vast majority the baby cannot be saved. Often a woman will only realise the pregnancy is ectopic at the first scan between six and ten weeks.
Usually it is terminated immediately because of the risks to the mother.If left, the growing foetus may rupture the fallopian tube or other organs which can cause severe internal bleeding. Around five women a year die from an ectopic pregnancy in the UK.
Evidence from a consultant gynaecologist, stated that, had Miss Stevenson arrived in A&E at a point prior to cardiac arrest, then, on the balance of probabilities, the ectopic pregnancy would have been diagnosed and she would rapidly have had lifesaving surgery.
The inquest was also told that 'too much reliance' was placed on reports from Miss Stevenson that she had the contraceptive implant, and therefore did not think she was pregnant.
This was contrary to the evidence of her GP, who stated that it had previously been removed.
Mrs Coventry has now paid tribute to her daughter saying: 'Sabrina was the sort of person who saw good in everybody.
'If she only had a fiver to last her the week and you asked her for it, she would give it to you with no questions asked.
'She was very bubbly and was always happy. She was a ray of light for everyone.
'One of the things that I would like to see going forward is that the medical profession consider that any woman of childbearing age presenting with abdominal pains is pregnant until this is ruled out.'
The couple have now organised a fundraising golf tournament to raise money and awareness for The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust at The Rayleigh Club in Rayleigh, Essex, this Saturday .
Mr Coventry added: 'The condition happens a lot. It's quite common and about five women a year die from ectopic pregnancies.
'We're trying to raise funds for the charity, but also awareness of the condition so husbands and partners will recognise the signs.
'We also feel GPs are not fast enough to spot the signs and are in some way dismissive of the women who report with certain issues.'
Culled from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3136198/Young-woman-28-ectopic-pregnancy-heart-attack-died-waiting-two-hours-ambulance-arrive.html#ixzz3prCuqw8o
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