A radiologist who didn’t administer adrenaline to a woman who later died from an anaphylactic reaction to dye used in a heart scan has revealed why.
A radiologist who didn’t administer adrenaline to a woman who later died from an anaphylactic reaction to dye used in a heart scan has revealed why.

Mum wasn’t given adrenaline before she died

A radiologist says it was too hard to direct staff to give adrenaline to a mum suffering an anaphylactic reaction who later died.

Dr Gavin Tseng told an inquest he was too busy trying to give Peta Hickey, 43, oxygen when she had a severe allergic reaction to dye used in a heart scan.

He'd directed staff at a Moonee Ponds clinic to administer diazepam and hydrocortisone intravenously but said teaching a more junior radiographer or medical assistant to inject adrenaline mid emergency was too complex because they'd have to draw up a syringe and inject it into Ms Hickey's thigh.

"They are not medical practitioners,'' Dr Tseng said.

"They are licensed to give IV contrast.

"It's a very different kettle of fish.

"The whole situation is overwhelming already and having to give instructions and do all this at the same time as ventilating is just impossible - very difficult.

"It's not just 'administer' in two seconds. I have to give instructions for them to take the correct dose."

He said he was unaware the other radiographer had already drawn up adrenaline and that asking staff to take over a bag valve mask while he administered adrenaline was also problematic

"You are in an emergency situation, you're asking non medical people to do medical things - I don't know how you can. I had to make a decision that the ambulance is on the way and we had back up.

"It's a rare but really terrible event."

Peta Hickey, 43, died after undergoing a heart check in May 2019. Picture: Supplied
Peta Hickey, 43, died after undergoing a heart check in May 2019. Picture: Supplied

Dr Tseng initially thought Ms Hickey had fainted because she started talking but when the mum of two started having seizures suspected a brain issue or allergic reaction.

The medic, who'd only worked at the clinic three times, was tending to another patient when called to Ms Hickey's aid.

The second anniversary of her death will fall on Mother's Day.

"When I first saw Peta she was sitting up talking to me apologising for alarming me,'' he said.

"When I saw that I thought: 'Oh this could have been a mild contrast reaction or (she) had a vasovagal that was resolved'. I saw colour flowing back into her."

Ms Hickey, who had no history of heart problems, underwent a CT coronary angiogram at the Future Medical Imaging Group clinic after her employer Programmed Skilled Workforce Limited introduced a voluntary screening program for senior executives.

A Sydney-based doctor listed as the referring doctor on her booking confirmation had never seen or met the Heidelberg Heights woman.

Dr Tseng - a specialist in the procedure - told the court he tried to contact the doctor without success and would never have conducted the scan had he known the doctor never saw her.

Dr Tseng, who has since undergone anaphylaxis training which he pledged to maintain, said there were no adrenaline autoinjectors like an EpiPen at the clinic.

Paramedics gave Ms Hickey multiple doses of adrenaline but she died in hospital.

The inquest continues.

wes.hosking@news.com.au

Originally published as Why dying allergy mum wasn't given adrenaline



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