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Elderly woman, Joyce Benveniste, died from brain haemorrhage, inquest is told
An elderly woman fell down a flight of stairs and suffered a "catastrophic" brain haemorrhage shortly after doctors said they had "no immediate concerns", an inquest heard yesterday.
Joyce Benveniste, 83, fell down a flight of stairs on March 1 and paramedics were called to her home in Morgan Close, Northwood.
Her husband, Albert Benveniste, witnessed the fall and said after she lost her footing on the stairs she "stretched out and grabbed the hand rail but it gave way".
Paramedic Samuel Goodman arrived at Mrs Benveniste’s home at 1.26pm and found the pensioner lying at the bottom of the stairs.
In evidence read out to the inquest, he described her as "quite alert" but said she was complaining of lower back pain. The paramedics wanted to immobilise her neck and her to lie down but she refused because she suffers from vertigo and was feeling dizzy.
She was taken to Watford General Hospital and Mr Goodman said Mrs Benveniste was "alert" and stable throughout the journey, but was experiencing shortness of breath, palpitations and did not remember the accident.
Dr Sandip Patel, a consultant in acute medical care, who saw Mrs Benveniste during her time at Watford General, told the inquest "there were no immediate concerns" but she had pain in the right hip, groin and lower back. He said observations were carried out and they found two fractures to her pelvis, for which she was given pain relief medication. She was not given a CT scan of her head upon arrival at hospital.
Dr Patel told the inquest Mrs Benveniste suffered a "funny turn". Medical staff carried out more tests and found she had a bleed to her brain.
Mrs Benveniste suffered a "catastrophic" brain haemorrhage shortly afterwards and died.
Dr Patel told the inquest: "She wasn’t going to recover."
There was no sign of bruising or external injury to Mrs Benveniste’s head, but Dr Patel said the brain would have been injured when it came to a sudden stop on the inside of her skull during the fall.
He added: "We were fooled by the fact that she was alert and thought that the brunt of the force was one the lower back and pelvis."
Dr Patel said a sudden and unexpected death like this is "very unlikely but does happen", particularly in elderly people.
Coroner Edward Thomas recorded a verdict of accidental death.
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