Dying swine flu victim's pleas to go to hospital ignored THREE times by paramedics
Niyousha Haki was seen on three separate occasions after concerned relatives dialled 999Despite having 'grossly abnormal' temperature and elevated heart rate, they judged her symptoms to be ‘non-life threatening’She died a day later after suffering a cardiac arrest
23:30 GMT, 4 December 2012
A young woman with swine flu died after her desperate pleas to be taken to hospital were ignored three times by paramedics.
Niyousha Haki, 28, had a ‘grossly abnormal’ temperature and an elevated heart rate, but while family members repeatedly called 999, medics insisted her symptoms were ‘non-life-threatening’ and caused partly by anxiety.
A day later, she was finally taken to hospital, where she had a heart attack and never regained consciousness.
Niyousha Haki, who was suffering from a 'grossly abnormal' temperature and elevated heart rate, pleaded to be taken to A&E
An inquest into her death heard how Miss Haki, from London, became seriously unwell while visiting her stepfather in Hall Green, Birmingham, at the height of the swine flu outbreak in the winter of 2010.
After she had been ill for several days, concerned relatives called emergency services for help on the evening of December 14. However, paramedics said NHS guidelines meant that they could not take Miss Haki to hospital, because her symptoms did not appear to be serious enough.
With her pulse racing and temperature still extremely high, family members called 999 again at 1am but when the paramedics arrived, they too insisted she should stay at home.
Miss Haki had contracted the virus five days before medics were called, at the height of the swine flu outbreak in winter 2010
A day later, she was rushed from a local medical centre to Solihull Hospital, where she suffered a cardiac arrest and never regained consciousness
A third team was called at 4.40am but while Miss Haki again begged to be taken to see a doctor, she was told once more that her symptoms were not serious enough.
At the time, paramedics were under guidance not to take flu cases to hospital unless they were suffering life-threatening symptoms or had underlying conditions.
A day later – after suffering flu symptoms for five days – Miss Haki went to a local medical centre and was immediately taken to Solihull Hospital. She died later that day from a cardiac arrest, caused by pneumonia and swine flu.
Robert Jefferson, the first paramedic to see Miss Haki, told the inquest at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall: ‘The standard advice was that swine flu patients should not be conveyed to hospital unless they were high risk. The patient was not showing signs of concern.
A pathology report revealed Miss Haki died from pneumonia, with swine flu listed as a secondary cause
At the time of the tragedy, paramedics were under guidance not to take all flu cases to hospital unless they were suffering life threatening symptoms or had underlying conditions
‘Her chest was clear and she appeared to be breathing normally. There was no evidence of pneumonia and, apart from the flu, she appeared to be well within herself.’
Paramedic Claire McArdle, who attended the second call-out, said Miss Haki seemed ‘edgy’ and ‘anxious’ rather than critically ill. She told the hearing: ‘Although she [Miss Haki] had symptoms which were abnormal they didn’t appear to be life-threatening.
‘She had a sort of appearance of edginess, she was anxious. She did have a high respiration rate but it was difficult to say how much of that was symptoms of swine flu and how much it was due to the anxiety. There were no other signs of respiratory distress.’
A pathology report found that Miss Haki, who was unemployed, died from pneumonia, with swine flu as a secondary cause. The inquest verdict is expected on Friday.
The swine flu outbreak in the winter of 2010/2011 was one of the worst in recent decades, with hospital A&E and intensive care units stretched to breaking point.
It led to 474 deaths – 30 per cent more than the 361 deaths during the previous winter, when Britain was supposedly in the grip of a swine flu pandemic.
A report from Oxford University and Imperial College London said many of the swine flu deaths during the winter of 2010/11 could have been prevented, but the Government wrongly led the public to believe the flu season would be mild and did not encourage vaccinations.
SWINE FLU: THE VIRUS THAT SWEPT BRITAIN
WHAT IS IT
Swine flu is the common name given to a relatively new strain of influenza (flu) that caused a pandemic in 2009-2010.
Despite not being as serious as originally predicted, the virus returned with a vengeance to the UK in the winter of 2010.
It was estimated that nine million Britons were struck down – nearly a sixth of the population – and twice the level of the year before. Just days before Christmas that year, around 200 victims were fighting for their lives in hospital.
At the time, the Mail reported that three times the usual number of people were being kept alive by highly-specialised heart and lung machines.
WHO'S MOST AT RISK
Swine flu attacks the lungs and respiratory system, with the common cause of death from this being viral pneumonia.
Swine flu (pictured) attacks the lungs and respiratory system
Another cause of death is secondary bacterial pneumonia, while a third is a severe worsening of underlying medical conditions, such as heart conditions, chronic lung conditions, asthma, diabetes, pregnancy, etc.
These people are most at risk because they already have weakened respiratory and/or immune systems.
Although elderly people are less susceptible to catching swine flu than younger people, they are more badly affected if they do get it, as their immunity is generally lower.
In pregnancy, the immune system is naturally suppressed, which means pregnant women are more likely to catch flu and then go on to develop complications.
HOW IS IT TREATED
In healthy people, treatment is
similar to that with ordinary flu – lots of rest and standard
paracetamol-based cold remedies to reduce a temperature and help relieve
In some cases, antiviral medications
oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) may be used to treat some
people with H1N1 flu. Antibiotics may also be used to treat H1N1 flu
patients who develop complications such as bacterial infections such as
Just days after Miss Haki’s death in 2010, 17-year-old Natalie Hill passed away less than 48 hours after doctors at Hull Royal Infirmary discovered she had the H1N1 virus. She was also suffering from a heart condition and blood poisoning.
Her mother said she believed Natalie caught swine flu from someone in the hospital, but the family was not blaming the hospital for her death.
A month later, Eleanor Carruthers, 68, from Merseyside, became another victim, despite having the flu jab. Mrs Carruthers also had underlying health conditions – she was seriously ill with emphysema and lung cancer. H1N1 (swine flu) was recorded as one of the main causes of her death.