A 23-year-old woman developed a blood clot and died weeks after commencing the contraceptive pill, an inquest heard.
Friends concerned for Lauren Johnson from Castle Grove in Swords, Co Dublin, found her semi-conscious in bed at home on September 3, 2015.
She died due to a blood clot and associated hemorrhage in the brain at Beaumont Hospital four days later.
Miss Johnson, known to her friends and family as ‘Rosy’ had spent a year in Japan and was working as a Japanese translator in Dublin. She had been suffering from persistent headaches in the weeks leading up to her death, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.
Her parents were away in Portugal when she became ill. She visited her local GP in Swords on September 1, 2015, two days before she was hospitalised, complaining of headache and visual disturbance.
“She complained a lot about this headache that wouldn’t go away,” her best friend, Kevin Gannon said.
He became concerned when he got no reply to his texts and calls. “We talked every day,” he said.
On September 3 he found Miss Johnson in bed at her house. “She was groggy and couldn’t string a sentence together,” Mr Gannon said. An ambulance was called.
“They asked her if she had taken tablets before and she replied yes, but she had never done that before,” he said.
There was a packet of paracetamol with 16 tablets missing at the house. Family members said she had been taking paracetamol for her headaches.
Paramedics rushed the woman to the Beaumont Hospital. On a handover sheet for hospital staff they wrote "query overdose".
She was admitted with a suspected paracetamol overdose at 1.35pm on September 3.
She was triaged as a category 2 patient meaning she had to be seen by a doctor within 15 minutes.
Dr Farah Mustafa saw Miss Johnson at 1.50pm and said the patient was tearful and drowsy but her vital signs were normal. She ordered a blood test and a review by a psychiatrist.
At 6.50pm, the psychiatrist approached the doctor, having spoken to Miss Johnson’s friends waiting in the ED.
“When he expressed concern that she hadn’t seen psychiatric services in Beaumont before, that made me concerned,” Dr Mustafa said.
A CT scan and further tests revealed a blood clot in the brain. Miss Johnson's parents, Brian and Sandra Johnson were called to return to Dublin.
“We saw Lauren in the ICU. She was weak and uncoordinated. They were doing more tests,” Brian Johnson told the court.
Despite efforts to save her life, Miss Johnson died on September 7.
The condition she developed, a blood clot that entered the brain through the jugular vein and associated hemorrhaging, is very rare according to Consultant Neurologist at Beaumont Hospital Dr Lisa Costello, who said she sees only two or three cases a year.
Miss Johnson’s GP records revealed she had started taking the contraceptive pill in July 2015. Blood clots in the veins are a known risk factor for the contraceptive pill.
The woman’s mother, Sandra Johnson said there was a higher risk associated to the particular brand her daughter was taking and asked for further evidence.
Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane adjourned the inquest for additional pharmacological evidence. “The passage of time does not make your loss any easier, but you want to leave this court feeling that the issues you raised were dealt with,” Dr Cullinane said.
The inquest will resume at a date yet to be scheduled.