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March 24, 2011
UK stroke victim 'wrongly diagnosed'
The Press Association
EAST SUSSEX, England — An East Sussex father-of-two died of a stroke on Christmas Day after paramedics wrongly diagnosed him as having an ear infection, an inquest has heard.
Plumber Steven Collingbourne, 43, started feeling ill at his home in Peacehaven on December 23 last year, but ambulance crews told him there was no point in taking him to hospital as he would just be left on a trolley in a corridor, the inquest at Brighton County Court heard.
He died two days later at Hurstwood Park Neurological Centre in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, after suffering a series of cardiac arrests.
Mr Collingbourne had general good health but had been prescribed Ramipril after being diagnosed with high blood pressure last summer after he went to his GP complaining of headaches and blurred vision.
His wife, Zoe, told the hearing that on the morning of December 23, his first day off for the Christmas holidays, he had been stressed out as he had received two emergency call-outs from customers.
Mrs Collingbourne said he briefly fainted that morning but continued with his plans to go go-karting with work friends. However, a friend brought him home early that afternoon as he had fainted a second time.
She said she returned home to find her husband in bed, and he told her he had a headache, felt very dizzy and disorientated, and had been vomiting and coughing up black material from his chest.
Mrs Collingbourne said she rang NHS Direct and described his symptoms, the transcript of which was read out to the inquest. They upgraded the call and told her to call Mr Collingbourne's GP to get an appointment as soon as possible.
Mrs Collingbourne dialled 999 when her husband said he could not move out of bed. When the ambulance crew arrived, they assessed Mr Collingbourne and diagnosed him as having labyrinthitis, an inflammation of the ear.
Although Mrs Collingbourne wanted him to go to hospital, they said that A&E was busy and it would take a long time for him to be seen to, so they advised her to instead get a prescription to treat him.
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