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Laura Addy

Hayley Gascoigne, Died of a Broken Heart? – Laura Addy summarises Inquest

On the 28th and 29th June 2018 Laura Addy represented Gary Long in the recent inquest into the tragic death of Hayley Gascoigne that was held at Hull Coroner’s Court before Professor Marks.

Mr Long is a paramedic who admitted failing to recognise a shockable heart rhythm and then failed to shock Hayley Gascoigne on the 26.1.17. Mr Long had been called to Miss Gascoigne’s aid following a report that she was having ‘a fit’. This episode followed Miss Gascoigne receiving an adverse ruling in a family Court hearing at Hull Combined Court. Unfortunately, Miss Gascoigne was in fact in cardiac arrest. Despite the failings on behalf of Mr Long the death of Miss Gascoigne was found to be from natural causes.

The reason the Court found the death was from natural causes is that of those who have a cardiac arrest outside a hospital environment only 8.6% of those people will survive. This survival rate has not increased much over the last 30 years. Studies have shown that the survival chances are increased if the person receives immediate and continuous CPR until they receive medical attention, albeit the survival rate decreases by 10% every minute post cardiac arrest even with CPR. The best chance for somebody in cardiac arrest with a shockable rhythm is in the first 4 minutes after onset. After 6 minutes the chances are poor and between 4 to 6 minutes post cardiac arrest it is touch and go whether somebody who receives the appropriate treatment will survive. It is for this reason that Miss Gascoigne’s chance of surviving her “broken heart” were poor even at the time that Mr Long arrived. Consequently, her death was due to natural causes and not the failings of Mr Long.

Given the findings it became apparent to the Coroner that in places where emotions can be high, such as Court Centres, he would be making a recommendation to Her Majesty’s Court Service that Court Centres should be fitted with defibrillators such that persons suffering a cardiac arrest in these places can be shocked as soon as possible and hopefully within the first 4 minutes of the episode to give them the best chance of survival.

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