The family of a 21-year-old woman who died from a massive brain haemorrhage after being misdiagnosed with a migraine has said they hoped the Health Service Executive has learned lessons so that her tragic death had not been in vain.
The family of Louise Butler of Cappa Lodge, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare, were speaking after her inquest in Limerick today.
The jury returned a verdict of medical accident in relation to her death and recommended that patients with persistent and severe headaches should receive a CT scan or lumber puncture in a short time frame during their hospital stay.
Louise, who had a history of headaches, died on 16 November 2006 - two days after she collapsed.
She had been discharged from the Mid Western Regional Hospital one month before after the Consultant who treated her, Dr Maeve Skelly, believed her symptoms were consistent with a migraine.
Because of this Ms Butler did not have a CT Scan during her six-day stay in hospital in October 2006.
She had been treated for headaches in hospital in October 2004 and both a CT scan and an MRI showed nothing abnormal.
Her family insist both they and their daughter told doctors she had what she described as a hammer blow type headache, which was causing severe pain at the back of her head.
Dr Skelly told the inquest today that description was not given to her, and she would have remembered it if it had.
She accepted she now did things differently and personally took her patients history as opposed to getting it from another doctor.
She said everybody that she sees now with a headache she thinks of Ms Butler.
She said she was profoundly sorry Ms Butler had died and it was very traumatic for her family, but it changed things for her as a doctor as well.
The family have already received compensation from the HSE as part of a civil action, in which the Board also accepted there were failures and deficiencies in Ms Butlers care.
Following the inquest the Butler family said patients and their families should listen to Ms Butler’s story and if they or their loved ones are in a similar position they should stand up for their rights, demand tests and investigations and insist on second opinions.