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Pill death: Newport woman might have survived if side effects had been treated, says coroner

Telford | News | Published:

A Newport woman who died after taking the pill would probably have survived if her GP had acted on her symptoms, a coroner has concluded.

Charlotte Grace Foster, 23, of Trinity Mews, Newport, died on January 25 from a blood clot caused by taking the oral contraceptive pill Dianette.

Recording his conclusion at the inquest into Miss Foster's death, Shropshire Coroner, John Ellery, said he accepted evidence that symptoms of the pulmonary embolism which killed her were evident when she visited her GP at Wellington Road Surgery, Newport, on January 4.

Miss Foster's family had told the coroner that they believed her concerns over shortness of breath had "not been taken seriously" by her GP.

Miss Foster, normally fit and healthy, had been taken ill while working at Muller in Market Drayton on January 22 and was admitted to Princess Royal Hospital Telford where she died three days later.

The coroner cited the evidence of Dr Nigel Tuft, a consultant in intensive care medicine at Princess Royal Hospital Telford in reaching his conclusion.

He said: "In Dr Tuft's opinion Charlotte was experiencing the symptoms of a pulmonary embolism on January 4, 2016.

"I have accepted that evidence and he was further of the opinion that the pulmonary embolism at that stage was treatable, possibly requiring surgery, but it was more likely than not Charlotte would have survived.

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"Initially he was saying in his opinion, although he never saw Charlotte in surgery and he was not a GP, that Charlotte would have survived if Dianette had been stopped immediately and she had been referred to hospital for tests."

The coroner said that notes made by her GP, Dr Sunil Simon, indicated that Miss Foster had presented with lower back pain, which he believed was "muscular in origin". He added: "He did not make any other note of the symptoms Charlotte had mentioned."

Mr Ellery recorded a narrative conclusion that Miss Foster died from a hypoxic brain injury caused by a pulmonary embolism as a result of taking the Dianette oral contraceptive pill.

The inquest had heard that Miss Foster, a customer category executive at Muller, went into cardiac arrest after a thrombosis caused a "massive" embolism in her lungs.

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The hearing had been told that three weeks earlier Miss Foster had seen Dr Simon over concerns about symptoms including back pain and was told to "get a massage or spa day".

Her parents told the inquest they felt her concerns and possible symptoms had "not been taken seriously" by Dr Simon during a number of consultations.

Miss Foster was prescribed Dianette in August last year, which she hoped would also help her battle with acne. She then joined Wellington Road Surgery in Newport.

During a review in October, Dr Simon, said he found no reason not to continue her prescription.

But her mother told the inquest Miss Foster had complained of back pain, shortness of breath, chest pain and palpitations from autumn last year, and urged her daughter to go back.

She said: "Charlotte asked me to accompany her to the appointment because she didn't feel Doctor Simon had taken her concerns about chest pain, shortness of breath and back pain seriously. She was scared."

During the January 4 appointment, Mrs Foster told the inquest, they were told her back pain was a "mechanical problem" and that she should have a "massage or spa day".

Dr Simon said he could not recall that Miss Foster was in any respiratory distress or her telling him of any shortness of breath and there was no record on her medical notes.

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