Officials in Australia are carrying out an inquest this week after a Newcastle woman died in 2007 following an abortion.
Helen Grainger, 29, suffered severe anaphylaxis when she was given an antibiotic at Lambton Road Day Surgery at Broadmeadow, on April 26, 2007.
The fifteen minute abortion procedure was without complications. Afterwards, Mrs Grainger was in a recovery room when she was administered Keflin – an antibiotic used to prevent possible infections after surgery.
She had previously taken Keflin without incident, but on April 26 she began to feel short of breath before a rash broke out across her body.
The inquest heard yesterday that before paramedics arrived, Mrs Grainger’s sedationist administered adrenaline intravenously to manage the reaction and CPR was performed shortly afterwards.
A paramedic of 33 years who treated Mrs Grainger at the surgery, John Gleeson, said she appeared to be suffering severe anaphylaxis and an endotracheal tube (a large, flexible plastic tube inserted into the trachea – the large airway from the mouth to the lungs) was used to resuscitate her.
Mr Gleeson told the inquest he also gave Mrs Grainger adrenaline, but only slowly to avoid what he called the “whammo” effect.
She returned a pulse on the way to the local John Hunter Hospital where she died two days later from brain hypoxia, the reduced supply of oxygen to the brain.
Expert witness and Director of the Allergy Unit at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Dr Robert Loblay, told the inquest yesterday that adrenaline was more likely to have caused Mrs Grainger’s respiratory arrest than anaphylaxis.
He said the likely cause of the anaphylaxis was a drug she had been administered previously.
Dr Loblay said the adrenaline should have been injected into muscle, not intravenously, and it should have been injected in increments over more than ten minutes to different parts of her body.
Written evidence tendered to the court indicated that the drug was delivered in about five minutes.
Dr Loblay said the surgery’s emergency trolley should have had one millilitre vials of adrenaline instead of the much larger “mini jet” syringe that was used.
Mrs Grainger and her husband Jon were advised by doctors to terminate their pregnancy in February 2007 because she suffered a serious kidney disorder that threatened the health of her and her baby.
Last December the inquest heard that no local hospital would perform the termination for Mrs Grainger. Her GP, Doctor Harrison Mellows said he referred her to the Lambton clinic because the local John Hunter Hospital rarely does abortions.
When asked if the John Hunter should have performed the abortion, Doctor Mellows stressed, “there was no option to get her to the John Hunter, the John Hunter wouldn’t do this procedure in this situation.”
The inquest resumed yesterday after being adjourned last December to allow a health professional’s report to be considered. The report suggested Mrs Grainger had 20 times the normal amount of adrenaline in her body.
The inquest will continue tomorrow before deputy state coroner Scott Mitchell.
Cross posted from LifeSiteNews.