Killed by bureaucracy: Woman in distress denied help because she was not taken to hospital in the “right” way
A student died after being turned away from a hospital reception while suffering an asthma attack as staff insisted her friends had to dial 999 for help instead.
Pretty Melody Davis passed away from swelling on the brain two weeks after gasping for breath in the car park of the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.
As the 20-year-old sat in the car, a friend ran into the hospital reception to plead for help, but was told ‘phone for an ambulance’ despite Melody being just 50 yards from A&E.
The hospital has since reviewed its policy for responding to medical emergencies within the hospital grounds. But Liverpool Coroner’s Court heard the decision to take Melody to the hospital by car rather than call paramedics ‘was the wrong one’ and the coroner said he would not attach ‘culpability’ to the NHS.
The court heard Melody’s two friends, Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Port, frantically tried to get help when the attack began on October 12, 2010, but neither had a mobile phone. Instead, the pair took the decision to drive her to hospital.
On the way to the city centre hospital, Melody was in ‘severe distress’ as she held her head out of the window battling for air. She even tried to get out of the vehicle in panic.
When they arrived at the hospital car park in Mount Vernon, Grace ran into the reception to plead for help for her stricken friend.
The medical student was told she had to call 999 and despite her screams of dismay was turned back to the car, where Elizabeth was supporting ‘swaying’ Melody to the entrance. She collapsed before reaching the door and an ambulance arrived to take her the few yards to the A&E department.
Merseyside Coroner Andre Rebello told the court the ambulance came from another location in the city centre and was on service to another hospital.
A post mortem examination found that Melody, from San Jose, California, died from hypoxic brain injury brought on by acute bronchial asthma.
As Mr Rebello discussed the findings with forensic pathologist Dr Peter Good and asthma expert Dr Simon Taggart, Melody’s father Roy listened via a telephone link from the USA.
Mr Davis told the court about his daughter, who had moved to Liverpool to study English Literature at the University of Liverpool. He said: ‘She started in the fall of 2008 and had been studying for two years, but would come home for the summer. ‘Melody was in her third year and would have graduated the following summer.
‘She was interested in English culture and knew about Liverpool because of The Beatles and her research into the country, so she chose to go there.’
Mr Rebello told the court of the findings presented in the report by Dr Taggart, who claimed that the ‘decision to put Melody in the car was the wrong one’.
‘The decision to travel by car is a common factor in deaths through asthma attacks. At the time of arrival, she was one to two minutes from respiratory arrest and no amount of emergency care would have saved her’
He continued: ‘Paramedics carry the appropriate equipment in case of an asthma attack of this nature and calling 999 would mean the medicine is brought to them.’
Similarly, the findings from Dr Good stated that ‘lack of awareness’ was a factor in deaths caused by asthma attacks.
Despite The Royal Liverpool Hospital changing its policy on treating patients in a car park following Melody’s death, Mr Rebello declined to apportion blame.
Tearful Mr Davis asked the coroner if staff at the Royal Liverpool Hospital were at fault, but Mr Rebello said he would not to attach ‘culpability’ to the NHS.
He also told the grieving father, who lives with his wife Dorothea in San Jose, that Melody’s friends acted in her best interests.
Mr Rebello told Melody’s father: ‘I am sure you would have liked attention to have been given in a different way when Melody arrived at the hospital. ‘But the experts say that was not causative to her death.
‘I’m hoping that the tragedy and upset you have suffered will enable other parents to take heed of the advice and to phone 999. ‘In that way Melody’s death would not have been in vain.’
A spokesman for the Royal Liverpool University Hospital said: ‘Our thoughts are with Melody’s family at this time and we would like to again offer our heartfelt sympathies.
‘We note the comments of Dr Taggart, the asthma expert, in this case about the need to educate the public and asthma sufferers on the importance of using the emergency ambulance services.
‘Since this tragic incident, the Trust has reviewed its policy for responding to medical emergencies within the hospital grounds. This includes advising the public on the need to contact the emergency ambulance services.’
Woman loses both fallopian tubes after bungling consultant removes wrong one following ectopic pregnancy
Going by the name of the surgeon, it looks like we may have yet another example of incompetence in “overseas-trained” doctors here
A consultant removed the wrong fallopian tube of a woman who suffered an ectopic pregnancy in a blunder which left her unable to conceive a child.
The woman lost both of her fallopian tubes in just three days after she was operated on by Dr Samina Tahseen and was then sent home by the obstetrician and gynaecologist – despite fears that the wrong one had been removed.
The woman – known only as Patient A for legal reasons – was forced to return to the Royal Derby Hospital three days later after suffering continued pain and bleeding.
It was then the mistake was discovered and a second procedure was then carried out by a different surgeon to remove the correct fallopian tube.
A Fitness to Practice Panel heard how Dr Tahseen had admitted later: ‘I had gone too fast – I just went for that tube.’
Patient A had been trying to conceive for about two years when she fell pregnant but went to her GP when she suffered bleeding.
After initially being told she had suffered a miscarriage and ordered to rest, the woman went to Royal Derby’s Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit when the bleeding worsened.
Doctors discovered she had a left-sided ectopic pregnancy and told her she would have to undergo surgery to remove the affected tube.
An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg has implanted itself outside the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. If left untreated, the egg can develop into a baby, rupturing the tube and causing potentially life-threatening bleeding.
Dr Tahseen performed the surgery on September 21, 2010, and removed the woman’s right fallopian tube instead of the left one where the pregnancy was.
She today admitted to the panel that she had not checked which tube contained the ectopic pregnancy and did not correctly identify the tube during surgery.
The hearing heard how Patient A was concerned as soon as she regained consciousness and challenged what had happened because she still had pain in her right side.
The panel was told that, when challenged, Dr Tahseen said it was obvious that the right side must have had the ectopic pregnancy.
Bernadette Baxter, prosecuting, said: ‘Dr Tahseen was then told the woman had a cyst in her right fallopian tube – a separate and unrelated issue. ‘She had looked shocked and had asked to see the patient’s notes.’
Dr Tahseen did not order further tests before telling the patient to go home.
However, Patient A returned to the unit on September 24 with continued pain and bleeding and she was told she would have to have a second operation immediately.
Miss Baxter added: ‘She was very concerned to have her left fallopian tube saved but the surgeon could give no such assurances. ‘She was told her left tube could not be saved as the ectopic pregnancy had ruptured’. ‘She had lost both fallopian tubes in three days.’
Patient A made a complaint to the hospital regarding the incident and, at a meeting on November 18, 2010, she told staff that if they did not inform the General Medical Council then she would.
Dr Tahseen admitted to seven allegations in relation to the incident.
The panel also heard of two other cases in which Dr Tahseen allegedly failed to provided good clinical care – charges to which she has not made any submissions.
The second case involved a 32-year-old woman referred to in the hearing as Patient B.
The woman had a history of uterine fibroids, non-cancerous tumours that develop in the womb, and underwent surgery to remove them.
She had asked for myomectomy, a procedure which, unlike a hysterectomy, can preserve fertility.
Dr Tahseen told the patient that the procedure would be ‘complex’. After removing the fibroids Dr Tahseen noticed serious bleeding and called upon a colleague to help find and stop the flow. The patient lost 2.7 litres of blood but it was managed and she made a full recovery.
But, according to the colleague, this was ‘more by luck than judgment’ after Dr Tahseen failed to inform a senior member of staff about the operation or make sure that someone was on hand to help.
Finally the panel heard that on a third occasion Dr Tahseen had extensively used a technique called monopolar diathermy during an operation to investigate abdominal pain on October 15, 2010.
This means using an electrical current to produce heat to cut during surgery.
It is alleged that Dr Tahseen did not adequately protect the patient’s body, resulted in damage to the tube connecting the kidneys and bladder, and urine leaking into the abdomen.
The patient had to be treated with antibiotics.
Polygamous immigrant families to be paid more benefits after British Government blunder
Immigrants with more than one wife will qualify for extra benefits under reforms to Britain’s welfare system, after an attempt to crack down on the problem backfired.
Polygamous marriages, largely confined to Muslim families, are only recognised in Britain if they took place in countries where they are legal.
Currently, any additional wives can receive reduced individual income support, meaning the husband and his first wife are paid up to £111.45.
Subsequent spouses living under the same roof receive around £40. Under the new system of Universal Credit, which comes in next year, polygamous marriages will not be recognised at all.
Ministers pledged to end the ‘absurd’ benefits regime which has seen multiple wives allowed to claim extra welfare payments.
But a House of Commons Library paper has highlighted a loophole in the rules which will allow additional wives to claim a full single person’s allowance, currently worth up to £71, while the original married couple will still get a married couple’s allowance.
The paper said: ‘Treating second and subsequent partners in polygamous relationships as separate claimants could mean that polygamous households receive more under Universal Credit than under the current rules.’
The Department for Work and Pensions admitted the loophole but said there were fewer than 50 polygamous families claiming benefits.
The first Asian woman to receive a peerage, Baroness Flather, has spoken out widely on the issue of polygamous families claiming benefits.
There are around 1,000 polygamous homes in Britain, the majority of which are Muslim
‘Under Islamic Sharia law, polygamy is permissible. So a man can return to Pakistan, take another bride and then, in a repetition of the process, bring her to England where they also have children together — obtaining yet more money from the state,’ she wrote in the Mail last year.
‘Because such Islamic multiple-marriages are not recognised in Britain, the women are regarded by the welfare system as single mothers — and are therefore entitled to the full range of lone-parent payments. We cannot continue like this.
‘Why are they allowed to have more than one wife,’ she added.
‘We should prosecute one or two people for bigamy, that would sort it out.’
Currently in the UK it is illegal to marry more than once. But if the multiple marriages took place abroad then it is not.
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions told MailOnline said that the loophole will exist because extra wives in a polygamous home are treated as single.
‘Polygamy is illegal in this country and it would be wrong for the benefits system to legitimise these arrangements by recognising them in any way,’ they said.
The pros and cons of selenium intake
Was the largest empire the world has ever seen built by people suffering from selenium deficiency? You decide
Who would have thought that the earth beneath our feet could be to blame for health woes ranging from heart disease to thyroid problems to cancer?
Yet that’s the view of some experts who say levels of selenium, a mineral essential for good health, are so low in British soil that it’s affecting the food chain, our diets and, ultimately, our risk of disease. The body uses selenium to make ‘selenoproteins’, which work like antioxidants preventing damage to cells. There is a growing body of evidence to show it has a key role in health.
Just last week, researchers at the University of East Anglia found people who eat large amounts of the mineral, along with vitamins C and E, are 67 per cent less likely to develop pancreatic cancer.
Previous research has shown that in old age a good selenium intake helps enhance brain function, so that cognition remains sharp and active.
The problem is we are not getting enough. The richest food sources of selenium are Brazil nuts, kidney, liver and fish, but the foods that make the largest contribution to our selenium intake — because we eat proportionately more of them — are cereals, bread, meat and poultry.
However, because levels of selenium in our soil are low, cattle aren’t absorbing as much when they graze, nor are crops or other fresh produce grown on it. As a result, there is less selenium available from meat, grains and vegetables.
Farming methods have a part to play. In a study conducted at Warwick University’s Horticultural Research Institute a few years ago, it was found that although British and northern European soils have been relatively low in selenium since the last ice age, levels are being further depleted by intensive modern farming methods and the use of chemical fertilisers.
‘Selenium levels in our blood plummeted after the time the government began measuring them in 1974,’ says Margaret Rayman, professor of nutritional medicine at the University of Surrey and a leading researcher in selenium’s effects. ‘They stabilised at this sub-optimal level in the mid-Nineties as our diets haven’t changed much since.’
She adds: ‘If you live in the UK, the likelihood is you are not grossly deficient, but do have low levels of selenium.’
The problem is compounded by the fact that we import less wheat from America’s selenium-rich soils than ever before, she says. Soil in the U.S. has higher levels of selenium due both to different geological conditions and the fact that it’s generally more alkaline, allowing better uptake of nutrients by plants.
In fact, the average Briton consumes only half (30-35mcg) of the daily amount recommended by the government (60mcg for women, 75mcg for men).
In the long-term, the effects of low intakes can be devastating, says Professor Rayman.
Earlier this year, in a paper published in The Lancet, she detailed selenium’s links to everything from enhanced fertility and thyroid function to preventing plaque build-up in the arteries and regulating blood pressure.
One study of men with fertility problems showed that 100 mcg selenium supplements taken daily significantly increased sperm cells’ ability to swim, indicating they had been selenium-deficient. Eleven per cent of men who took the supplement went on to father a child.
‘Selenium is an essential component of two selenoproteins required for healthy sperm,’ says Professor Rayman. ‘One of these is needed for transportation of selenium into the testes and the other gives sperm a stable structure that allows it to swim.’
But selenium is not without controversy. Lately, some of the scientists who once hailed it as a small medical breakthrough for serious diseases have backtracked, suggesting their latest findings appear to show its power may have been overstated.
Selenium was, for instance, thought to be able to fight prostate cancer and heart disease, but various studies in the past five years have chipped away at the notions.
One large study in the American Journal of Epidemiology followed more than 1,000 adults for seven-and-a-half years and found those who took 200 mcg of selenium daily had no reduction in their risk of developing heart disease or of dying from it than those who took a placebo.
Indeed, eating large quantities of Brazil nuts was found in one study at the University of Warwick to raise cholesterol levels by 10 per cent and raise the risk of heart disease, not lower it.
And while some scientists have recently shown it protects against bladder cancer in women, others have found it does nothing to help to prevent lung cancer.
Similar conflicting evidence surrounds selenium’s role in the prevention of type 2 diabetes, with some studies suggesting high selenium levels lower the prevalence of the condition by helping to control glucose metabolism.
However, other studies, including research by Saverio Stranges, professor of cardiovascular epidemiology at Warwick University, have found no such benefit and, indeed, that it ‘may increase the risk for the disease’.
Fish lovers versus bird lovers in Britain
Anglers have infuriated the bird watching community by calling for a cull of cormorants. They are calling for a mass campaign against the birds – nicknamed the Black Death – which they say are demolishing fish stocks.
But bird watchers say fishermen’s ‘single minded’ pursuit of the birds is unnecessary and are fighting to retain protection for them.
Britain’s cormorants are said to consume 23,000 pounds of fish a day, including young salmon, silver fish, eels and trout.
The Angling Trust, which has three million affiliated members, say some fisheries have been virtually destroyed and tackle shops have been forced to close due to the menace.
It launched the Action on Cormorants campaign yesterday calling for them to be generally licenced for culling, like magpies and crows, which can be killed if they threaten agriculture or public health.
No general licences have ever been granted to protect fishing and the RSPB say cormorant numbers are not big enough to withstand an ‘open season’ on them by anglers.
The simmering row wratcheted up yesterday (Mon) as the Angling Trust handed out 80,000 postcards for members to send to their MPs to try and get fisheries minister Richard Benyon to agree a cull.
Angling Trust chief executive Mark Lloyd said ‘This is an opportunity for thousands of anglers to stand up and be counted.
‘We’re letting MPs know that we care passionately about protecting our fish stocks and that we want action on cormorants now.
Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon is under pressure to agree a cull of cormorants
Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon is under pressure to agree a cull of cormorants. ‘We want a new system that will give fishery managers the opportunity to control these birds responsibly without expensive and unnecessary bureaucracy.’
George Hollingbery, vice-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary group on angling said: ‘I’ve witnessed first-hand the damage that squadrons of cormorants have done to my local waters, where, in some cases fish stocks have been so badly depleted that they are no longer functioning fisheries.’
On the river Lee in London anglers claim to have spent £40,000 on re-stocking fish but in a recent match the biggest fish caught was just 13 ounces.
At Holme Pierrpoint near Nottingham, anglers say only 25 per cent of the fish are left. In Kent, where up to 60 birds a day visit a trout fishery the owner is only allowed a licence to kill four of them in a year.
Anglers say the current measures – whereby they can apply for a specific licence for their own use – are too complicated.
The campaign is backed by celebrity anglers including TV presenter Chris Tarrant. He said: ‘It’s taken absurdly long for people to realise the damage to fish populations, other wildlife and the whole environment that cormorants have been doing for too many years.
‘Many of our finest, most beautiful and most famous waterways have been skinned by these predatory birds. Some of the flocks are enormous and the current regulations are hopelessly inadequate to control them.’
However Grahame Madge of the RSPB said there are already provisions to control cormorants – 2,000 were culled with special licences in 2010.
He said: ‘There are already provisions to control cormorants which are already higher than we would comfortably agree with and they don’t seem to have any increasing evidence of cormorant predation on fish.
‘We appreciate they can be a problem at certain fisheries but are non-lethal steps they can take to protect their stock such as underwater reefs which give young fish protection from predators.
‘If they were put on licence, there would be no limit on the numbers killed and no proper monitoring to ensure they are not taking more than the population could withstand and see their numbers substantially reduced.
‘We have been talking to anglers about this for year and investing in research which shows there are measures they can take. But the angling fraternity seem to want to turn their back on all that dialogue held in good faith and go out and kill cormorants which we think is unacceptable.’
Ethnic minority pupils’ underachievement to be tackled by ‘blind marking’ in bid to remove British teachers’ prejudice
A good idea for all
Teachers could ‘blind mark’ pupils’ work in an attempt to raise exam scores of children from ethnic minorities. The controversial plans are designed to reduce inequalities between races.
Under the proposals, teachers would not know the identities of pupils when marking their work.
Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrat party and Deputy Prime Minister, is believed to be in support of the policy.
A study by education watchdog Ofsted in 1999 showed that children with African or Asian-sounding names were likely to be given lower marks of up to 12 per cent in some cases.
Statistics show that almost half of young black people and 31 per cent of young Asian [mainly Pakistani] people are unemployed.
It is believed Liberal Democrat communities minister, Andrew Stunell, along with Clegg, want to introduce the policies soon despite opposition from other ministers.
A senior Whitehall source told The Guardian: ‘We waited a long time to get the integration strategy out the door, but we’re now keen to get on with the job of implementing it.
‘A lot of the projects supported by the integration strategy have slipped by under most people’s radars, but Andrew is keen that we turn up the volume and speak out much more often and much louder on race issues.’
There are also proposals to ethnic monitor banks but it is feared that this could compromise people’s privacy.
Only six per cent of black Caribbean and African people are self-employed or own their own business compared with 15 per cent of white people.
The plans are expected to be published in a report by Liberal Democrat Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece later this year.
Must not say bulimics are intelligent?
Silly old me. I thought it was a compliment!
The London born rapper received a host of furious comments after he labelled bulimia an ‘intelligent disorder’, yesterday.
The 28-year-old, who is currently on holiday in New York, took to Twitter to make a couple of poorly received comments.
He first said: ‘i’m over they heads like a bulimic on a sea-saw’, and later added ‘bulimia is quite an intelligent eating disorder.’
The Read All About It star was instantly criticised by some of his near 1.2million followers who were left disgusted by his statements.
It might even be true. Bulimia is a mental illness (an OCD subcategory) but some mentally ill people tend to be of above average intelligence — autistic people, for instance