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Herne Bay: Diabetic Rosie Umney died hours after ear infection diagnosis

By Jack Dyson

A 15-year-old girl went into cardiac arrest and died just hours after she was told by a GP she had an ear infection.

Herne Bay High pupil Rosie Umney, a type 1 diabetic, was taken to the William Street Surgery on the evening of Monday, July 2, after vomiting, hyperventilating and struggling to walk.

An inquest at Canterbury Coroner's Court today heard Dr Sadaf Mangi failed to recognise the teenager was exhibiting some of the symptoms of ketoacidosis - a serious problem that can affect people with diabetes if their body starts to run out of insulin.

Rosie was a caring and hardworking girl
Rosie was a caring and hardworking girl

She said she initially thought Rosie could have had the illness after learning she was a type 1 diabetic, but thought otherwise after her mum, Georgina Umney, said her daughter’s blood sugar levels had been normal that day.

“I did not know Rosie very well,” Dr Mangi said.

“When her mum told me her blood’s glucose levels were normal, I had no reason to question that.

“In light of my examination, I diagnosed Rosie with an ear infection.

“She had an inflamed ear drum. She gave me the impression that she was anxious and I believed her rib cage was hurting because she had been retching and vomiting.”

During questioning by the family’s legal counsel, Rory Badenoch, Dr Mangi said she was unaware that blood testing strips, like Rosie’s, had been recalled earlier that year.

Rosie with mum Georgina
Rosie with mum Georgina

She also conceded she was unaware of guidance published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) that states a diabetic should be referred to hospital if they have symptoms such as shortness of breath, sickness and high temperatures.

“My practice has changed now and I have refreshed my knowledge of diabetic ketoacidosis,” she added.

“I want to pass my deepest condolences and apologies to the family.”

Paramedics were called to the schoolgirl’s home in South Road that night after her father, Lee Hubble, found her lying on the living room floor.

In a statement read to the inquest, he said: “I woke up when I heard ‘thump, thump’ from downstairs.

“Rosie was on the living room floor. I thought she was fitting.”

When paramedic Richard Steinbeck arrived just before 1.10am he was told by Rosie’s parents that earlier blood sugar tests had returned a normal reading of 7.9 millimoles per litre.

Rosie's sudden death shocked friends and family
Rosie's sudden death shocked friends and family

But two samples taken from her earlobe and finger were so high that his machine was unable to provide a figure.

This prompted him to tell Rosie’s parents: “One of the machines is wrong.”

“I had used mine several times that evening and had no reason to believe this was wrong,” he told the inquest.

“I used another crew’s blood meter which also showed a reading of high.”

He added that Rosie, who was born in Canterbury, stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest at about 1.30am.

She was rushed to the QEQM Hospital in Margate before 2.10am, where she later died.

The inquest was adjourned for further inquiries.

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