Wrong diagnosis


Heart virus kills young mother, 28, after doctors kept saying it was indigestion

  • Gemma has chronic inflammation of the heart which would have been picked up by an ECG test

  • GP said Gemma had not mentioned she was suffering chest pains during her appointment three days before her death

A young mother died after doctors misdiagnosed her inflamed heart as acid reflux, an inquest has heard.

Gemma Jones, 28, had been suffering from crushing pains in her chest, arms and abdomen months before she collapsed and died at her home in March.

An inquest heard Gemma had visited her GP three days before she died but he wrongly diagnosed her with acid reflux.

Gemma Jones with her son Harry. She was found lifeless on the bed at home by her fiancee

Gemma Jones with her son Harry. She was found lifeless on the bed at home by her fiancee

She was actually suffering from Diffused Viral Myocarditis – an inflammation of the heart caused by a virus.

The mother-of-one was found lifeless on the bed at her home in Daventry, Northamptonshire, by her fiancee Philip Medhurst on March 18.

Just three days earlier, Gemma had gone to Abbey House Medical Practice in the town, where she was again told she was suffering from acid reflux.

An inquest at Northampton General Hospital on Friday heard an autopsy showed ‘chronic inflammation’ of Gemma’s heart which would have been detected by a simple ECG test.

Paramedic Nicola Kirk, who was the first to treat Gemma after she collapsed, told the hearing she was ‘surprised’ a GP had diagnosed her with acid reflux.

Recording a verdict of death by natural causes, Northamptonshire Coroner Anne Pember said: ‘I can only remember two cases of the condition in her 17 years as county coroner.’

But after the hearing Mr Medhurst said his fiancee should have been offered an ECG which could have saved her life.

He said: ‘She said it felt as if someone was applying huge pressure to her chest. She went back and forth to the surgery but was just told it was acid reflux.

‘The Thursday before she passed away she went to the surgery again, and again she was told it was acid reflux.

‘I believe if Gemma had been given an ECG it would have shown up and she could have been treated.

‘Gemma was loved immensely and will always be in our hearts.’

On the night Gemma died, Philip was out with friends at the pub. He sent her a text at midnight and asked if it was okay for him to stay out, and she replied to say it was.

But when he returned home he found her lying unconscious on the bed.

Dr Francis Somerset, from Abbey House Medical Practice, told the inquest Gemma had an ECG in October 2010 after complaining of chest pains – but the results were normal.

He said he only saw her once after that, in September 2011.

He added: ‘It is rare and very serious. It sends a shiver down my back. I am glad I was not the last person to see her.’

Gemma’s last appointment was with Dr Asma Saad, a GP registrar, days the week before she died.

Dr Saad told the inquest she had not mentioned anything about chest pains during the appointment.

Asked if she would have offered Gemma an ECG if she had complained of chest pains, she said: ‘Definitely. We would have ordered an ECG there and then.

‘It would have rung alarm bells.’

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