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UK 15-year-old dies from pulmonary embolism after being put on birth control pill

Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

SUFFOLK, England, September 20, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The family of a British teen who died after taking the pill continues to grieve the loss of their daughter as experts dispute a link between the drug and her death while new procedures are put in place to safeguard against others suffering the same fate.

“Charlotte was loving and kind. She had a smile that lit up the room,” a statement from her mother, Emma Cruickshank, said. “The family she left behind will never be the same again.”

Charlotte Lockwood was 15 when she died in 2014 from severe hypoxic ischemic brain injury caused by cardiac arrest resulting from a pulmonary embolism she suffered after being prescribed a combined contraceptive pill. The autistic teenager collapsed at home, was hospitalized, and died a week later.

At a recent inquest into the girl’s death, her family said they were not informed that Charlotte, whose grandmother and great grandmother suffered with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), was being changed to a chemical contraception with higher risk of blood clots.

“They remain resolute that Charlotte was failed on many levels, and that had she received the appropriate care and treatment, she would be with them today,” a family spokesman said. “They are encouraged that procedures have changed at the practice which will safeguard patient safety; however, sadly, this is too late for Charlotte.” 

The teen had been taking a progesterone-only pill to control heavy menstrual bleeding, but it was not effective, the Daily Mail reports, also causing weight gain, hair loss, and mood swings.

This prompted Cruickshank to ask for a meeting with a physician at Grove GP Surgery in Thetford to discuss a medication change, but after a call back from an on-call doctor and a telephone discussion about switching prescriptions, Charlotte was  changed to a combined oral contraceptive known to carry higher risk of blood clots.

Cruickshank said the doctor failed to clarify he was changing the type of pill rather than simply the brand and did not completely explain the risks.

“I firmly believe had Charlotte and I been properly advised about the risk of the combined contraception pill by Dr. Riddell,” she stated, “the prescription would have been refused because of the deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in our family history.”  

The doctor, however, disputed this, saying he would have had done the best he could to inform her about it, and that Cruickshank failed to bring Charlotte in one to two months after she began taking the new pill for a review of her blood pressure, BMI, and weight.

An independent physician sided with the prescribing physician, telling the court that Charlotte’s prescription was reasonable under the circumstances and concurred there were no other appropriate options to address the child's heavy periods.

The coroner’s report concluded that no definitive proof existed that she died strictly from her use of the contraceptive pill and that Charlotte died from natural causes.

"Even if she had not been on the medication, she still may have developed clots," the coroner wrote. 

However, the coroner also raised concern over the facility’s procedures in prescribing the pill, the East Anglian Times reports, with the coroner writing, “There was clearly no plan in place to ensure her medication was reviewed or her response to the medication as to whether it was working.”

Consequently, the Grove GP Surgery facility has put a number of measures in place to better regulate dispensing of chemical contraception, including banning new contraception prescriptions without an in-person appointment with a doctor, six-month checkups for patients on contraception, and a maximum of three months for trials of any new contraception, which can only be extended upon a review of patients’ health.

Amid the inquest and response from the facility in the wake of her child’s death, Cruickshank mourned her loss.
“Charlotte had her whole life in front of her and for her to be robbed of such opportunity at such a young age is tragic beyond words,” she stated. “The family will never fully recover from losing our beautiful Charlotte. Nothing can bring her back to us.”

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