Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Death of Tamika Patricia Carol ULLRICH

Inquest into the Death of Tamika Patricia Carol ULLRICH

Delivered on: 20 January 2017

Delivered at: Perth

Finding of: Coroner King

Recommendations: N/A

Orders/Rules: N/A

Suppression Order: N/A

Summary: The deceased was a 23 year old registered nurse who lived on her own in York. At the time of her death she worked at the Narrogin Hospital.

In late December 2012 the deceased had neck pain which she had suffered for some months. She saw her general practitioner, who diagnosed mechanical neck pain and prescribed the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib.

On 29 December 2012 the deceased presented at the emergency department at Northam Hospital after she had vomited several times in the morning and had severe pain in her neck and head. A nurse admitted her into the emergency department ward and the general practitioner on duty arranged for the nurse to give her an anti-inflammatory drug and a muscle relaxant.

At 1.50 pm the deceased vomited in the ward. At 2.20 pm that afternoon the deceased left the emergency department after telling the nurse that she felt better.  She went to her mother’s house in York and tried to rest, but she was unable to lie down and vomited several times.  Her mother stayed with her until she finally settled at about 4.30 am. At about 6.15 am on 30 December 2012 the deceased’s mother found her in her bed with no signs of life and she could not be revived.

Post mortem examinations revealed that the deceased had died from chronic hydrocephalus with brain swelling. Expert neurological evidence indicated that the deceased may have been susceptible to mild changes to her intra-cranial pressure from such events as vomiting.   On that basis, the neck pain, headaches and vomiting were not the result of her hydrocephalus from intracranial pressure. Instead, the neck pain and vomiting would have likely upset the balance in her central nervous system, which resulted in a fatal effect from a cardiorespiratory event. The expert evidence did not identify a possible alternative mechanism for her death.

The coroner found that death arose by way of natural causes and that the care the deceased received at Northam Hospital was adequate given her presentation and that her death was not predictable.

Catch Words: Chronic hydrocephalus : Northam Hospital : Natural Causes.

Last updated: 31-Jan-2017

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