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Daughter died after mum begged for brain scan

A woman has described how her daughter died from a massive brain haemorrhage a month after she had begged the doctor who was treating her for a CT scan.

Louise Butler (21), from Cappa Lodge, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare, died at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick on November 16, 2006, from a large subarachnoid haemorrhage.

Speaking at the inquest yesterday in Limerick, Dr Maeve Skelly, who treated Louise, said if she could turn back the clock to change things, she would do so "in an instant".

Dr Skelly said she was sorry for Louise's death and acknowledged that it was a very traumatic time for her family.

She added that her own medical practices had also changed following the death.

Louise was a security officer at Shannon Airport. In 2004, after suffering from headaches for a lengthy period, she underwent MRI and CT scans, but was given the all-clear.

However, on October 3, 2006, she went to see her family doctor, complaining of a sore throat, earache and a headache. Three days later, she collapsed at work and was taken to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital.

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Her mother, Christine Butler, told the jury yesterday that her daughter described her headaches as being like a "hammer blow". She recalled that medics were adamant that Louise had a migraine, despite her daughter's protestations about the severity of the pain.

Fighting back tears, Mrs Butler told the inquest that her daughter insisted to doctors that her symptoms were not the same as those in 2004. Louise and her family requested a CT scan before her discharge from hospital on October 12, 2006.

"She (Louise) began to insist on a scan. I begged Dr Skelly for a further CT scan. However, Dr Skelly refused, saying one had been performed on October 5, 2004, which had been normal and that a repeat scan would be arranged, but not as a priority," she said.

Mrs Butler said she repeatedly contacted the hospital to bring forward the scan. It was performed on November 13.

"However, Louise collapsed on November 14 and never recovered," her mother said.

Pathologist James O'Driscoll conducted a post-mortem and concluded that Louise died from a brain haemorrhage.

Dr Skelly told the inquest that at the time of Louise's admission to hospital her symptoms appeared to be those of a migraine. However, she fully accepted that Louise had died from a brain haemorrhage.

She said that following Louise's death, she thinks of her case every time that a patient presents with a headache and that the case had been on her mind for the last four years. Dr Skelly added: "There are a lot of ifs."

The six-person jury returned a verdict of medical accident and said the death was in line with the evidence presented to the inquest.

They also recommended that patients who present with persistent and severe headaches should receive a CT scan or lumbar puncture within the minimum time frame.

The HSE had previously apologised to the Butler family in the High Court as part of a settlement of legal proceedings, which included a payment of €40,000 to the family.

Source Irish Independent

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