THE FAMILY of a 20-year-old woman who died from heart failure after seeing four doctors in three months have criticised the findings of an inquest, saying vital evidence was ignored.
Coroner Caroline Beasley- Murray last week concluded Jodie Fields, from Glendale Gardens, Leigh, died as the result of sudden adult death syndrome following a one-day hearing at Chelmsford Coroners Court.
Her grieving relatives say evidence of a long-standing heart problem and deep vein thrombosis in her leg were dismissed.
Jodie had seen four separate GPs at Queensway Surgery from February 23, 2012, complaining of being short of breath and a rapid heart beat, but was not referred to a heart specialist until five days before she died on May 20 that year.
Sister Kirsty Fields, 23, and mum Karen, 48, who now live in Southend, are considering launching a challenge to Mrs Beasley-Murray’s findings.
They claim last-minute evidence of pathologist Dr Konrad Wolfe finding a deep vein thrombosis in her leg was given little weight.
Thumbs up: Jodie was full of life say her family
The family say they were made aware of a note made by the pathologist referring to a deep vein thrombosis in her left calf, which he had not referred to while giving evidence to the inquest, saying only he had found small clots in the right side of her heart.
The family solicitor requested Dr Wolfe be recalled. The coroner refused, but allowed an officer to speak with him by phone and report back to the family.
Dr Wolfe’s finding of sudden adult death syndrome was backed by heart specialist Dr Patrick Heck, who reviewed his findings.
Last minute: An extract of Dr Konrad Wolfe's note states "DVT left calf"
Miss Field added: “Doctor Heck’s report was done without seeing the note we now have.
“The coroner’s officer confirmed it was deep vein thrombosis later in court, but it made no change to the verdict.”
The pair are also concerned the coroner did not allow evidence to be heard from a heart specialist they commissioned to look at the case. In a report sent to the coroner, but not discussed in the inquest, Dr Paul Kelly, a consultant cardiologist at Southend Hospital, questioned the sudden adult death syndrome cause of death reached by Dr Wolfe.
He said: “The fact there was thrombus (clots) in the pulmonary vessels and the heart suggests there was a chronic component to her illness and this was not investigated adequately (before death).
Although the final events were sudden, the events leading up to this do appear to have been more protracted.”
Karen said: “We just feel let down and like we have had to fight the whole way to get anywhere and there are still more questions than answers.”
A spokeswoman for Mrs Beasley-Murray’s office said: “The coroner will not be drawn into making comments about evidence after an inquest has been concluded.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said an inquest could be appealed by going to the High Court within three months or by contacting Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General.
No comment: Caroline Beasley-Murray
There was also criticism of medics involved in the investigation during the inquest.
The court heard Dr Konrad Wolfe mistakenly recorded doing his post mortem in March, two months before Jodie died, in reports to the court.
He also recorded Jodie had no tattoos when marking down any identifiable features on the body.
The court heard she had three, one on her wrist, one on her shoulder and a third on her neck similar to a large tattoo her sister Kirsty has, which she showed to the court.
East of England Ambulance Service also came under fire for poor record keeping. Staff produced copies of incident reports that were hard to read and a transcript offered to the court was incomplete.
Coroner Caroline Beasley- Murray said: “You know I must have originals of these documents.”
Loud speaker: Doctor Patrick Heck
The court took the unusual step of allowing Dr Patrick Heck to give evidence and be cross examined by mobile phone on loud speaker, and he was not sworn in.
Asked after the hearing why he was not sworn in, coroner’s officer Laura Howarde said it “was the first time we have done this”.
TIMELINE of what happened:
*February 23, 2012: Dr Karthikeyan Vishwanathan carried out ECG examination which recorded a pulse rate of 126, well over the normal limit of 80 beats per minute, and diagnosed Jodie as having an abnormally fast heart beat. However, he said the machine’s finding could not be relied on and diagnosed the high pulse as being down to stress or anxiety, prescribing beta blockers to slow heart rate.
*March 1: Jodie saw registered GP David Pelta, who said he had virtually no recollection of the appointment. He wrote at the time she seemed better and her pulse had dropped to 86. He continued beta blockers and recommended thyroid tests. The court also heard Dr Pelta has had to work under supervision by order of the GMC amid concerns over his record keeping.
*April 4: Jodie saw locum Dr Clifford Osbourne complaining of pain in a swollen left calf.
Although Dr Osbourne considered the possibility of deep vein thrombosis in the calf, or other heart problems, he dismissed it and did not take her pulse, concluding it was muscle related and prescribed Ibuprofen gel.
Referred to specialist: Dr Harriet Solomonides
*May 10: Jodie saw another locum, Dr Harriet Solomonides, reporting shortness of breath, a chesty cough with no sputum, pain in the back upon breathing in and cramp in both calves. Dr Solomonides advised her to undergo another ECG, but did not perform one that day. She also prescribed antibiotics amid fears she may have a chest infection as she was mildly asthmatic.
*May 15: Jodie saw Dr Solomonides after having ECG, but much of the results were unreadable, and could only be read along the bottom line, giving a pulse rate of 104. Dr Solomonides upped the dose of beta blockers and finally referred her to a heart specialist.
*May 20: Jodie suffered cardiac arrest.