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THE distraught family of a pretty 25-year-old who died suddenly have hit out at doctors for failing to diagnose a condition which could have saved her life following tests five-years prior to her death.
Natalie Herbert was discovered unconscious in her bed at her sister’s home and later died in hospital on April 12 last year.
An inquest at Leicester Town Hall yesterday (WED) heard the attractive PR accounts manager could have been diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome, a disorder of the heart’s electrical activity, in 2005 after she had a seizure at her home in Birstall, but neurological doctors failed to pass on vital test results to a cardiology department.
Now her devastated family have blasted medics for failing to communicate and not acting at the time, describing her tragic case as ‘sheer negligence’.
Natalie’s distraught mother Judy, 55, sobbed as she said: “We know nothing is going to bring Natalie back but it is sheer negligence. We were assured it (the first fit) was nothing to worry about and not to panic and told it happens to a lot of girls that age.
“It is fact that seizures are linked to Long QT syndrome.”
The inquest was told Natalie had an EGG and ECG at Leicester General Hospital in September 2005, the former of which showed an abnormality, following the fit, which occurred as she turned her alarm clock on to snooze on her mobile phone.
Asked if the condition could have been diagnosed then, consultant cardiologist Dr Alistair Sandilands, told the inquest: “I understand she was using her mobile phone at the time. On the balance of probabilities this was a second cardiac event.
“I would not expect a neurologist to pick up Long QT. However, the ECG in my eyes was not normal and a cardiology referral should have been made.”
Letters about Natalie’s condition were not received by the family because they were sent to Natalie’s GP, the court heard.
Assistant Deputy Coroner Lydia Brown said: ” From this evidence before me I conclude there was evidence available in 2005 that could have led to a diagnosis of Long QT Syndrome and could have therefore evoked further investigation and possibly associated preventative treatment for Natalie.
“I can go no further than to say this could have happened but the information did not reach the cardiology department.
“It is always a tragedy to lose any person so young and all the more so when there is the possibility that intervention could have changed events.”
She recorded the cause of death as sudden arrhythmic death syndrome due to natural causes.
Speaking after the inquest outside the Town Hall, Natalie’s sister Cristie, 29, from Birstall, Leicestershire, said: “The main reason for doing this was to build awareness for other people. There are so many people out there that this is happening to. They are having fits and being sent away.
“We didn’t know what to expect from the inquest but we hoped they would have pulled up the doctors. It is not good enough. It is people’s lives. We feel let down by the Trust. Natalie would not believe this was happening if she was here.”
Mrs Herbert added: “Natalie’s ECG did not show a slight abnormality, it showed a significant one. Natalie had a clear Long QT on there.
“Neurological departments are doing ECGs which are not being read correctly. When neurology could not find anything it should have gone to cardiology.
“How many people out there speak out like us? How many accept that the medical profession are right? It is unbelievable. There is no feeling – it is just about money.
“It has taken us a lot to do this. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. Natalie’s life is over but she would have wanted to help someone else.”
University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust were unavailable for comment.