Woman died after migraine diagnosis

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The Independent Online
TWO DOCTORS separately told a young mother she had migraine during the week of pain she endured before dying of a brain haemorrhage from which she could probably have been saved.

Amanda Livingstone, 25, went to the casualty department of Trafford General Hospital, Greater Manchester, on Sunday 9 May. Three days later, she saw her family doctor about a headache, vomiting and impaired vision. Both times she was told to take pain killers, an inquest was told yesterday. David Blakey, the Salford coroner, recorded a verdict of death from natural causes. He said Ms Livingstone would probably have survived had she been sent for a brain scan and surgery.

Ann Alexander, lawyer for her family, said they would sue Trafford Health Authority and Dr Iain Maclean, the family doctor, for negligence.

Ms Livingstone died on 14 May, within hours of being taken in a coma back to Trafford Hospital. Dr Mervyn Lobo saw her, and arranged immediately for a transfer to specialist neurological care at Hope Hospital, Manchester.

He told the inquest there had been 'worrying signs' that could have aroused the suspicions of Dr Maclean and Dr Neil Smith, who examined her at the hospital five days earlier.

Dr Smith, who now works in New Zealand, said in a statement that he advised Ms Livingstone, of Flixton, Manchester, to rest and take paracetamol. Dr Maclean said there were 'no significant neurological features'.

Her symptoms were consistent with the hospital diagnosis of migraine, Dr Maclean said. Migraine could last several days.

Dr Roger Strachan, the neurological surgeon who established that Ms Livingstone was brain dead at Hope Hospital, said symptoms of brain haemorrhage were similar to those of migraine.

But the possibility of a haemorrhage should have been excluded by positive action. She could have been transferred for a brain scan on the day she fell ill, or, at the latest, the morning after.

Three days later, when she visited her general practitioner, her headache and other symptoms were even less likely to have been the result of migraine, Dr Strachan said.

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