U.K. Nurse Commits Suicide After Misdiagnosing a Patient

Patient’s Sudden Death Leads Nurse to Take Her Own Life

26-year-old Mariona Garcia Ramon wasn’t feeling well when she came into the Brighton Station Walk-in Centre in Brighton, England during April of last year. The young woman appeared perfectly healthy, but she sought medical attention for shortness of breath and lightheadedness. One of the nurses on staff that day, Charlotte Walsh, treated Ramon for her symptoms, diagnosing her with anxiety. Considering the patient’s age and condition, Walsh came to the conclusion that Ramon wasn’t suffering from a life-threatening condition.

Miss Walsh advised Ramon to visit with her general practitioner for further testing. Mariona Garcia Ramon took her advice and saw Dr. Cathy Burgess at Pavilion Surgery the next day. After running some additional tests and examining the patient for nearly half an hour, Burgress made the same diagnosis as Nurse Walsh: Ramon seemed to be suffering from anxiety. But, something much more serious was going on underneath the surface.

A Tragic Misdiagnosis

Just two days after visiting the walk-in clinic, Mariona Garcia Ramon died from a rare type of blockage in her heart, a condition that’s almost unprecedented in women her age. Both healthcare providers failed to see what was truly going on with the patient, believing Miss Ramon to have been a relatively healthy young woman with little reason to be concerned about her heart.

As tragic as this story may seem for young Ramon, Nurse Walsh struggled to cope with the aftermath of the situation. She went on to leave her position at the Brighton Station Walk-in Center in August of last year, several months after Ramon’s death. Just three weeks later, Walsh’s partner Justin Green, an A&E nurse, went to work in London like any other day of the week. But when he returned, he found that Walsh had hung herself in her own home.

Green spoke to reporters, saying that his partner wasn’t used to having so much time off once she left her position at the walk-in clinic. He said this time was supposed to be a break for Walsh, so they could figure out what they were going to do next. While Walsh had no documented history of depression or anxiety, she couldn’t seem to get over what had happened months before when she was still working as a nurse.

During the initial police investigation, authorities found three notes in Walsh’s bedroom, including one addressed to Justin, one to her parents, and one to the coroner, clearly suggesting that Walsh meant to take her own life.

Investigating the Aftermath

Walsh’s former employers at the walk-in clinic investigated her diagnosis of Ramon, stating that Walsh could have been “more open-minded” when diagnosis Ramon’s condition. Yet, during the official inquest in Ramon’s death, all three doctors, including Marjorie Gillepsie, Walsh’s former boss, stated that Walsh’s diagnosis was consistent with the patient’s symptoms. During the inquest, a consultant cardiologist stated that, based on the patient’s age and health, “It would have been far-fetched for Charlotte Walsh to conclude that Mariona had a life-threatening condition.”

During the autopsy, consultant pathologist Dr. Mark Howard stated that Ramon’s excellent health likely masked her heart condition. Her body likely recovered quickly after periods of breathlessness caused by blood backing up into the lungs.

Unfortunately, Walsh failed to see Ramon’s underlying heart condition. While it seems other healthcare providers would have made the same diagnosis had they been in Walsh’s position, this doesn’t negate the emotional and mental toll the misdiagnosis must have had on Walsh. After Walsh’s death, one of her colleagues remarked, “She was one of the most dedicated nurses and took a huge responsibility in what I imagine was a vocation.” A tragic story that reminds us all to take a closer look.

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