Page last updated at 17:24 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Patient's final hours described by doctor

Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court - Crown copyright image
Dr Carmichael told the inquiry it was clear Ms Pickup was seriously ill

The last doctor to try to treat a young woman dying from pneumonia has given evidence at an inquiry into her death.

Dr Ian Carmichael, 66, broke down at one stage during the hearing at Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court.

Victoria Pickup, 25, of Kirkpatrick Durham, died shortly after returning from a skiing holiday in 2007.

Dr Carmichael said that by the time he saw her she was "breathing desperately" and had suffered a cardiac arrest in an ambulance on her way to hospital.

The fatal accident inquiry had previously heard from two other doctors from the Gardenhill Primary Care Centre in Castle Douglas who examined Ms Pickup.

Her lips were a dark colour of blue which was a sign of insufficient oxygen in her lungs
Dr Ian Carmichael

The first, Dr Soeren Schoenoff, accepted that, in hindsight, a rash she was suffering was more significant than he had thought.

He said that when he saw the young woman he had believed her rash was linked to vomiting caused by a viral infection.

A second doctor to see Ms Pickup, Dr Mhairi Williamson, told the inquiry she had reached a similar conclusion.

Dr Carmichael, who has since retired from the practice, said it was clear by the time he saw the young woman that she was very ill and dying.

"She was breathing desperately, deep breaths and very fast," he said.

"Her lips were a dark colour of blue which was a sign of insufficient oxygen in her lungs.

"I thought it might be a pulmonary embolism but I could not make a judgment."

'Virulent infection'

He told the inquiry how Ms Pickup was given oxygen in the ambulance on her way to Dumfries Infirmary.

However, he said that had proved difficult and it was at that moment she had suffered cardiac arrest.

A report described the cause of death as streptococcal septicaemia and bronchial pneumonia.

Consultant pathologist Dr John Ameusi told the inquiry it could kill a person very quickly.

"It is a virulent bacterial infection and you can die within 36 hours if untreated," he said.

"A person deteriorates quite rapidly.

"You can appear to be unwell but not seriously ill at first."

The inquiry continues.



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