A 22-year-old mother who suffered a fatal reaction to prescription painkillers was accused of ‘faking it’ by paramedics as she lay dying and was told to walk to the ambulance, an inquest heard.
Beatrice Lovane, from Rochdale in Greater Manchester, who had an undiagnosed liver condition, fell ill after taking co-codamol tablets prescribed for stomach pain.
Ambulance staff failed to act for a ‘prolonged period of time’ after she collapsed at the bottom of her stairs despite her mother begging them to help.
As she lay on the floor in vomit, her eyes rolling back and struggling to breathe, she was told by paramedics to ‘stop being funny’, ‘behave’, ‘stop humiliating’ herself, and was refused a wheelchair, the inquest was told.
She was eventually put on a stretcher when she appeared to stop breathing and after police alerted one of the paramedics at the scene.
The inquest heard she was taken to hospital following the incident in August last year but was pronounced dead less than two hours later.
Post mortem examination tests showed the tablets Miss Lovane took caused her to suffer organ failure as she had a fatty liver.
The paramedics’ behaviour was only exposed when police body cam footage surfaced during her inquest.
Heywood coroner Lisa Hashmi said there had been a ‘gross failure to provide the most basic of care’ in a case that ‘beggared belief’, adding that paramedics’ attempts to resuscitate Miss Lovane were ‘perfunctory’
Speaking at her daughter’s inquest, Maria Lovane, 55, said: ‘I came back home about 11pm and the paramedic were already there. Beatrice was in the sitting room and she didn’t look well and she was breathing very fast – her pupils looked dilated.
‘The paramedic told me her breathing was too high and they asked me to try and calm her down but I was unable to. One of them tried to take her blood pressure and I could see her eyes rolling back so I asked them if they were going to take her to hospital.
‘They asked her to walk to the ambulance but it wasn’t safe for her to do so. I asked them if they could give her oxygen but they said it would not be safe to do so. They told her to walk to the ambulance so I asked if I could get a neighbor to help me if they weren’t going to.
‘When her eyes were rolling one paramedic said to her: “Stop being funny and behave yourself”. They told me she was faking it and doing it for attention. They were trying to pull her down the stairs and she went onto her knees and collapsed at the front entrance.
Post mortem tests showed the tablets Miss Lovane took caused her to suffer organ failure as she had a fatty liver
‘I requested for a wheelchair and one of them said to me: ‘We are not giving her a wheelchair, there is nothing wrong with her legs.’ She collapsed again and they said to her: ‘What are you doing, stop humiliating yourself and walk to the ambulance’.
‘There was mention that someone had called the police and when the officer arrived he tried to take me to one side and asked to talk to me and that is when I think she took her last breath. They started rushing and got a stretcher from the ambulance and put a tube over her mouth.
‘The police officer asked me to check Beatrice’s medication as well as any of my own but I think her medication was taken properly and mine was still in tact. That officer rang another officer and I was told to take the children out of the house.
‘When I turned round after speaking to him the ambulance had already gone…when I arrived at the hospital, a doctor came out and told me they were doing everything to help Beatrice but that she was not responding. A short time after they told me she had passed away.
‘They took almost three hours to get her to hospital.’
Beatrice Lovane, pictured with her mother Maria Lovane, 55, died from an allergic reaction to painkillers
Sgt Phillip Canavan said he was called to the flat by ambulance staff and activated his body cam to record the incident unfolding.
He added: ‘I spoke to paramedics and asked why they called for us to come and I realised that mum was quite upset so I took her to one side to allow the paramedics to continue.
‘I was aware that at first there had been a single responder and he had difficulty conducting observations saying that she was very up and down and so requested assistance. The original paramedic said they had been at the house for quite some time. When I arrived I was certain there was a comment along the lines of: ‘We are not sure if she is putting this on.’
Trainee paramedic Lisa Chadwick said: ‘I just wish I had done something differently or more quickly. It was a new role and I would have liked more training support than I received’
But paramedic Anthony Morris, who was first on the scene, said Miss Lovane was not initially ‘observably unwell’.
He said she was not co-operating, refused to go to hospital and slipped from her chair to the floor in what appeared to be a ‘controlled action’.
She then went to the bathroom and locked herself in, he said, before coming out and falling to the floor in what was again a ‘controlled movement’.
He added: ‘We wanted her to get to the ambulance and believed she had the ability to so we agreed that she would go down the stairs in the flat on her bottom. It seemed safer not to carry her downstairs due to her behaviour. Somebody rang for police assistance because the patient was not co-operating and we thought this may encourage her to come to hospital.
‘The patient was stood up and was assisted by her mum downstairs and when we got to the bottom she sat down and I informed her the police had arrived. Beatrice then suddenly collapsed and this was different to the other time. Throughout my attendance I explained to the family that I wanted to help and that I wanted to get Beatrice to hospital but it was proving difficult. She did not look observably unwell.
‘When she was walking downstairs she was assisted by mum and the plan was that whilst she was mobile she would continue walking and we could get her to the ambulance.
‘I was shocked as to what had happened. I would have done this so differently now and I am so sorry. I believed at that time that her actions were behavioural because of the way she had just taken off and ran into the bathroom with no explanation.’
Trainee paramedic Lisa Chadwick said: ‘I just wish I had done something differently or more quickly. It was a new role and I would have liked more training support than I received.’
Both paramedics, alongside a third member of the crew, were suspended by North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) when footage of the incident emerged shortly before the inquest.
**FACTS ABOUT NON-ALCOHOLIC FATTY LIVER DISEASE
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the term for a range of conditions caused by a build-up of fat in the liver. It’s usually seen in people who are overweight or obese.
A healthy liver should contain little or no fat.
It’s estimated that up to one in every three people in the UK has early stages of NAFLD where there are small amounts of fat in their liver.
Early-stage NAFLD doesn’t usually cause any harm, but it can lead to serious liver damage, including cirrhosis, if it gets worse.
Having high levels of fat in your liver is also associated with an increased risk of problems such as diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.
If detected and managed at an early stage, it’s possible to stop NAFLD getting worse and reduce the amount of fat in your liver.
Source: NHS Choices
Recording a narrative verdict coroner Lisa Hashmi said there was a ‘gross failure’ to provide basic medical care and was ‘deeply disappointed by professionals’ who ‘did not appear to have been upfront and honest’.
She said: ‘Families shouldn’t have to beg for care and investigation. Whilst the paramedics have been very honest I am very disconcerted by the fact that it took officers body cam footage to establish the truth around this matter.
‘But for this footage this family would have been left in a very precarious position. I am deeply disappointed by professionals who did not appear to have been upfront and honest and it leaves me with great concern about the statements of truth they put their name to.
‘It is not going to bring Beatrice back but let this be a lesson to others and don’t let this happen to any other families. The judgement of the paramedics was quite clearly clouded and the call to Greater Manchester Police I do not think was an appropriate use of their services.
‘The paramedics placed a value judgement, deeming Beatrice to be acting, or playing up and I do not agree with that particular position. The repeated calls to the floor when taken into context were subtle but significant of the fact this young woman was becoming rapidly unwell.
‘They misinterpreted these signs and didn’t place them within the context and when Beatrice did finally collapse in a very serious condition it was for anyone to see she was not well. She was deprived of her dignity and precious little was done to save this young woman.
‘The paramedics failed Beatrice on this occasion and they will have to live with the outcome of their actions however that burden is small in comparison to the burden of this family.
‘I cannot conclude that if things has had been done differently it would have changed the outcome but I do find it would have improved her chances of survival. Whilst there was a gross failure to provide basic medical care to the deceased it is not possible to link this to her death.’
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