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TEES MEDIC: DECISION DUE; Committee to rule on care allegations.


A TEESSIDE paramedic accused of failing in her duty by not taking a man to hospital who later died, was due to learn her fate today.

North East Ambulance Service paramedic Sharon Cooke, 35, is appearing before a Health Professions Council (HPC) committee facing allegations regarding her care of Wilfred Crooks.

Yesterday, Cooke defended her decision not to take the 80-year-old man to hospital saying that Mr Crooks had shown no signs of respiratory problems and had refused any help.

A complaint was lodged against the Hartlepool paramedic by Mr Crooks' family following the incident on March 20, 2006.

His wife Dorothy, also in her eighties, had called an ambulance when her husband woke up struggling to breathe.

Miss Cooke and technician Tom Hind were sent to the Hartlepool bungalow but when they arrived they said Mr Crooks appeared to be breathing normally.

"The patient was sat very comfortable.

He was sat cross legged with his arms on his lap. He had normal skin colour and was not sweaty," said Miss Cooke, who allowed Mr Hind to assess the patient.

She saidMr Crooks had declined to have any tests apart from a blood sugar level check and refused to be taken to hospital. But when questioned she could not recall howmany times he had been asked.

Paul Summers, a Unison representative, said: "If Sharon had felt the need to intervene she would have done so. As it was Sharon and Mr Hind were satisfied the patient's condition was not serious."

Mr Crooks was left at home and advised to contact his GP.

But later that morning after he was seen by his daughter Sue Charlton, a qualified nurse and paramedic, he was taken to hospital by a second ambulance crew.

He died the next day after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Miss Cooke, who recently got promoted to team manager, gave evidence to the committee yesterday.

She is accused of: failing to provide Mr Crooks with adequate basic medical or respiratory assessment not offering to take him to hospital not recording information correctly on his patient record form leaving assessment and decision making to the male technician she was with.

Miss Cooke, who joined the ambulance service in 1998 and has been a paramedic for four years, denies failing in her duties.

However, she accepted that the patient record form had not been completed correctly and has since undergone specialist training.

The hearing heard Mr Hind had completed the form but Miss Cooke had failed to check it. The date on the form was wrong, the time was missing, many observation boxes had been left blank and Mr Crooks' respiration rate had been recorded in the wrong box.

Julie Norris, representing the HPC, suggested that had Mr Crooks refused help it would have been recorded on his Patient Report Form.

She said the ambulance crew had not carried out enough clinical tests to know it was safe to leave him at home and accused Miss Cooke of serious misconduct.

"She's acted in a way which has really called into question her professionalism."

Mr Summers added: "Sharon has continued to work in a role as a paramedic without any incidents or complaints about patient care."
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Nov 29, 2007
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