A young Zimbabwean mother suffering a fatal reaction to painkillers was accused of “faking it” for “attention” by paramedics as she lay dying, an inquest heard.
Beatrice Lovane, 22, was breathing quickly, rolling her eyes and collapsed on the floor after she took more prescribed medication than recommended by her doctor.
But an ambulance worker called to her home is said to have told her: “Stop being funny and behave yourself. What are you doing, stop humiliating yourself and walk to the ambulance.”
When Miss Lovane’s mother asked if her daughter could have a wheelchair, she is said to have been told: “We are not giving her a wheelchair, there is nothing wrong with her legs.”
Miss Lovane, from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, was eventually put on a stretcher when she appeared to stop breathing and after police alerted by one of the paramedics arrived at the scene.
She was taken to hospital, but died less than two hours later. The hearing in Heywood was told the incident began at 9.40pm on August 26 last year after Miss Lovane became ill after taking co-codamol, which had been prescribed by her doctor for stomach pain.
Miss Lovane’s mother, 55-year-old Maria Lovane, said:
“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 neighbour 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.
“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.”
Paramedic Anthony Morris said: “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 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 [her mother] 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 run into the bathroom with no explanation.”
Post-mortem tests showed the tablets Miss Lovane took caused her to suffer organ failure as she had a fatty liver.
Recording a narrative conclusion, coroner Lisa Hashmi said: “The approach taken by the paramedics was dismissive and they cannot explain why they reached the conclusion that Beatrice was hyperventilating or establish why she might have been hyperventilating. Families shouldn’t have to beg for care and investigation.”
She added: “The paramedics placed a value judgement, deeming Beatrice to be acting, or playing up and I do not agree with that particular position.
“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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