Page last updated at 20:48 GMT, Tuesday, 14 October 2008 21:48 UK

Heart attack paramedic struck off

Ambulance general
Stephen Powderhill did not attend the hearing in Cardiff

A paramedic who told a heart attack patient she was having a panic attack has been struck off.

Stephen Powderhill was aware the woman, identified only as MD, had chest pains and was breathless before he arrived at her Cardiff home.

He failed to diagnose a heart attack and treated her for diarrhoea and sickness, a Health Professions Council (HPC) hearing was told.

The panel, which sat in Cardiff, found Mr Powderhill guilty of misconduct.

The woman, who has Type 2 diabetes, said she was so distressed by Mr Powderhill's behaviour she insisted her husband drive her to hospital himself when she experienced similar pains the following week.

MD said she had pains to her arms and chest when Mr Powderhill and his colleague arrived, but told the HPC panel: "He told me to calm down. He thought I was having a panic attack.

"He said everything would calm down if I relaxed a bit."

I found it more distressing than having a heart attack, the experience I went through
Patient identified as MD

Mr Powderhill, who did not attend the hearing on Tuesday, was trained to give a clot-busting drug but did not administer it to the woman, HPC representative Julie Norris said.

The patient, in her mid-50s, was told to "cover up" as she walked to the ambulance in a flimsy nightdress, the hearing at Cardiff's Holiday Inn was told.

She was then driven to the nearby University Hospital of Wales without a seatbelt on.

The only medical check Mr Powderhill carried out on her was a blood glucose level test, the hearing was told.

MD said: "He spoke to me like I was a little girl. I was distressed at the time."

Asked why she failed to call an ambulance on the second occasion, MD replied: "Because I didn't want another episode. I just didn't have any faith in them.

"I relive it every Saturday morning. I found it more distressing than having a heart attack, the experience I went through."

Her husband, identified only as SD, made an official complaint to the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust after the incident in July 2006.

Describing Mr Powderhill's behaviour, he said: "He just didn't want to be there. There was just no urgency at all.

"He just seemed he couldn't care. His diagnosis was completely wrong. He seemed arrogant towards my wife.

"I felt as if he had a bad morning, or a bad night. I didn't realise he had just come on a shift."

Incorrect diagnosis

Christopher Moore, who investigated the case for the HPC, said Mr Powderhill's failure to give even "basic oxygen" was "disappointing".

In a letter submitted to the HPC, Mr Powderhill admitted he made "a mistake".

The panel found him guilty of misconduct, saying he failed to take equipment from the ambulance to treat MD, did not give her a full assessment or proper treatment and did not give her oxygen.

He also failed to help her to the ambulance, did not alert the hospital to her arrival and gave an incorrect diagnosis to a triage nurse, delaying the woman's treatment.

Panel chairwoman Clare Reggiori said Mr Powderhill's behaviour had such serious potential consequences for future patients that striking him off the register was the only option.

He was given 28 days to appeal against the decision.

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