Simon Connolly in COVID-19 vaccine-related inquest

Simon Connolly represented a tele-radiology company and its employed radiologist in inquest proceedings touching upon the death of Miss KT; an eighteen-year-old student paramedic who, in February 2021, was offered and accepted the Astra-Zeneca vaccine in connection with her vocational studies.

Within two weeks of having received the vaccine and prior to international identification of the risk factors associated with it in the younger patient cohort, Miss KT presented to A&E with an acute onset headache which was investigated as a possible subarachnoid haemorrhage.

Whilst an intracerebral bleed was excluded on radiological assessment, subtle signs of hyperdensity possibly consistent with cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) were not identified. Haematological investigation also demonstrated that Miss KT was suffering from a thrombocytopaenia which served to complicate her management.

Tragically and despite the efforts of the clinicians involved in her care, Miss KT succumbed to her illness within days of her admission.

The circumstances of Miss KT’s death were reviewed when the risk factors associated with the Astra-Zeneca vaccine in younger patients became known. Further investigation confirmed the presence of all five factors of relevance to confirm a diagnosis of vaccine-induced immune thrombocytopaenia and thrombosis (VITT).

The inquest heard evidence from a Professor of Haematology who was amongst the first clinicians in the UK to recognise this rare, vaccine-related syndrome and who was involved in the co-ordination of the national response to it.

That evidence demonstrated that whilst Miss KT was treated appropriately in relation to early differential diagnoses in the absence of knowledge of VITT as a clinical syndrome, such treatment and particularly the introduction of platelets to correct the thrombocytopaenia proved later to be contra-indicated and potentially served to exacerbate the condition.

The Coroner returned a narrative conclusion which reflected the missed opportunity to identify the CVST but found that this was not causative of or contributory to Miss KT’s death given the complexity of her clinical management at a time when VITT was unknown as a clinical syndrome. No PFD report was issued.

The case was reported in the media:

Click here  – The Mirror 

Click here – Yorkshire Post

Click here – The Examiner live 

Simon is Head of the Healthcare Regulatory Team at PSQB and is ranked in both Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners for Inquests and Inquiries. To instruct Simon or to instruct any aspect of his practice please contact his clerks:

Madeleine Gray on 0113 202 8603

Patrick Urbina on 0113 213 5250