A paramedic’s decision to stop trying to resuscitate a seven-year-old girl who suffered a severe asthma attack was “a gross failure to provide basic medical treatment”, a coroner has said.
Izabelle Easen, known as Bella, died from a massive cardiac arrest after the asthma attack at her home in Thorne, near Doncaster, on April 9, 2008.
Years later, after a Sky News investigation, Bella’s family found out paramedic James McKenna had been disciplined and struck off by a panel who heard that he failed to continue CPR until their daughter had reached hospital.
Giving evidence at her inquest in Doncaster yesterday, Mr McKenna admitted he failed to follow the correct procedure but claimed there was nothing more he could do.
The hearing was told Bella complained to her mother Lorna Easen that she was struggling to breathe at around 2am on April 9 and was given her nebuliser and medication.
Around 30 minutes later, Bella collapsed and her mother immediately called 999. Paramedics attended the address eight minutes after the call.
Mr McKenna was first on the scene and carried out CPR for around ten minutes before concluding that nothing else could be done.
But the inquest heard it was protocol for paramedics treating a child to carry on with life support until the point when the child is brought to hospital.
Giving evidence yesterday, Mr McKenna said that when he arrived at 3.13am Bella was “pale, with blue lips and unresponsive” but he started to perform basic life support and asked a police officer to do chest compressions.
He said he got the protocol wrong as he believed at the time that the requirement to always take young patients to hospital only related to babies. He said: “There was nothing more we could do. I carried on with CPR but soon knew there was not going to be a response.”
He added: “Bella should have been transferred to hospital but I don’t think it would have made much difference because of the tests I carried out.”
Dr Simon Taggart, a respiratory medicine specialist, said that while the youngster only had a five per cent chance of survival: “Children are robust and should be given every chance.”
Recording a narrative verdict, Assistant Coroner Michael Mellun said the failure to follow protocol would not have changed the outcome, on the balance of probabilities.
He said: “I am satisfied there was a gross failure to provide basic medical treatment and I take the view that, as this was a seven year-old child, there were clear protocols in place.”
He said he could not rule that the failures in the care of Bella amounted to negligence because the chances she would have survived if she had been taken to hospital were so slim.