Friday 23 February 2018

'We didn't know nut allergy could be fatal' - mum of tragic Emma

Emma Sloan’s mother Caroline Sloan and her daughter Amy at the inquiry
Emma Sloan’s mother Caroline Sloan and her daughter Amy at the inquiry
Pharmacist David Murphy arriving at the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland inquiry
Emma Sloan died after eating food containing nuts

Mark O'Regan and Sam Griffin

The mother of tragic schoolgirl Emma Sloan, who died on a Dublin street after eating a peanut-based sauce at a Chinese restaurant, said she had no idea her daughter's allergy could prove to be fatal.

Caroline Sloan initially believed the worst case scenario her daughter would have to endure was spending "Christmas Day in Temple Street".

Ms Sloan told a Pharmaceutical Society fitness to practise inquiry how she frantically sought to help 14-year-old Emma, after she suffered an allergic reaction when she consumed the sauce in Dublin City Centre shortly before Christmas two years ago.

The inquiry is examining an allegation of poor professional performance against pharmacist David Murphy.

It is claimed that he failed to respond adequately when he declined to give Ms Sloan an EpiPen because she did not have a prescription. EpiPens are used to treat people suffering from anaphylactic shock.

The inquiry heard how Emma Sloan had suffered at least three similar reactions prior to the incident on December 18.

Ms Sloan recalled how her daughter began complaining of a tingling sensation on her lips so they left to go to Temple Street Hospital as they did not have an EpiPen with them.

At the inquiry, CCTV footage from inside the pharmacy was shown in which Ms Sloan could be seen asking for the EpiPen in the pharmacy.

Ms Sloan said because Emma had suffered previous reactions, which she described as "not serious", her initial reaction when her daughter started to feel unwell was not one of panic.

She added: "We were trying to get her over to the car, but by the time we got around the corner, she was gasping for breath."

She explained she went into the Hamilton Long pharmacy nearby on O'Connell Street while Emma waited outside.

She said she then asked a staff member for an EpiPen to treat the reaction but claimed the staff member said he could not give an EpiPen without a prescription.

She said she was told by Mr Murphy she "would have to bring her to A & E" and described the pharmacist's manner as "dismissive".

She said her daughter began to panic but she had no idea a peanut allergy could prove fatal.

"The worst I was thinking in my head is 'God, she's going to be in hospital for Christmas. We're going to spend Christmas Day in Temple Street.'"

However, she said her daughter then collapsed to the ground in a car park and died.

Under cross-examination, Ms Sloan said she had never been trained in how to use an EpiPen and she didn't recall ever being given an information leaflet about allergic reactions.

Dr Rosemarie Watson, a consultant paediatric dermatologist from Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin, saw Emma Sloan on a number of occasions and began treating her for eczema.

She gave evidence that medical records showed a clinical nurse specialist Karen Keegan in the hospital had gone through an information leaflet with the Sloans after Emma suffered a reaction in 2009.

She added that Nurse Keegan, who she agreed was a good nurse, would have demonstrated how to use an EpiPen.

She said death from an allergic reaction was "so extraordinarily rare".

Irish Independent

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