Coronor slams medics who dismissed Yorkshire mother's deadly blood clot as ear infection
Natasha Hewitt, 35, was given antibiotics and painkillers by doctors after she attended a walk-in centre in Sheffield on December 17 last year. Two days later she was admitted to hospital where she was diagnosed with a large blood clot and transferred to a specialist brain unit for surgery - but tragically died two days later.
An inquest heard that she may have survived had she been given blood thinning medication at the walk-in centre. In her closing remarks at Friday's hearing, assistant coroner Katie Dickinson ruled that there was medical negligence in Natasha's treatment.
She said: "Cranial venous sinus thrombosis is very rare - it's difficult to say when it started. I heard from two witnesses that time is of the essence when treating this thrombosis. If anticoagulation [blood thinning] medication had been given on 14 or 15 December, this would likely have been effective.
"In this case, Natasha was in a dependent position. There was a failure to provide basic medical care - evidence was heard from medical practioners that had medical treatment been provided, she would likely have survived. There was a missed opportunity to send Natasha to hospital earlier for diagnosis and treatment, which was contributed to by negligence."
Natasha's husband Nick, 42, paid tribute to her "wicked sense of humour", adding that she was a "beautiful soul and a kind-hearted person" who is 'terribly missed'.
He said: "Everything seemed perfect. We were actually trying for another baby. However, that all changed when Natasha started complaining of feeling poorly last December. The last time I saw Natasha open her eyes was when she was transferred. We hoped and prayed that she would pull through but sadly she didn't.
"We got to spend our last final moments together. It was absolutely awful feeling her hand go cold and the colour in her face change, I wouldn't wish it upon anyone. Natasha was a beautiful soul, there was no bad in her; just a kind and caring person."
Natasha had been suffering from a severe headache shortly before she attended the walk-in centre. During their last shopping trip together, the couple bought their son Harry his first pair of shoes. But her pain continued and she had migraine-like symptoms and struggled to stand up without feeling dizzy.
The following Wednesday, she attended a walk-in medical appointment at which she was prescribed antibiotics and painkillers for a suspected ear infection. Two days after first being prescribed antibiotics, Natasha - who had a history of blood clots - was admitted to hospital and transferred for specialist surgery later that day.
Surgeons operated on Natasha to relieve pressure on her brain on Saturday, December 17. She died at around 1am the next morning.
Heartbroken Nick added: "Natasha sought medical advice but she didn't seem to be improving; in fact she looked to be getting worse. Natasha was unable to look after Harry and I felt powerless to help her. It got to the point where I thought enough was enough and she needed to go to hospital.
"She couldn't stand up, she was vomiting, her speech was confused. She couldn't even keep water down. After arriving at hospital I was taken into a small room and offered a hot drink. That's when I knew how serious it was. I sat at her bedside was speaking to her as she was unresponsive. I held her hand and cried whilst saying 'I'm so sorry'."
Nick recieved assistance from medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate Natasha's death.
Rosie Charlton, a lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Nick, said: "This is a truly tragic case and Nick and the rest of Natasha's family are traumatised by her death and the circumstances surrounding it.
"Nick has had a number of questions and concerns about the events that unfolded in the lead up to Natasha's death. Worryingly, the inquest has validated those concerns, identifying issues in the care Natasha received before her admission to hospital.
"Blood clots are very dangerous and it's vital that medical professionals are aware of their signs. Early recognition and treatment significantly increase the chances of survival. Sadly it's too late for Natasha and her family. We join them in calling for lessons to be learned from what happened to her to improve patient safety.
"In the meantime we continue to support Nick at this distressing time to try and help him come to terms with his loss the best he can."