Doctors performed a cesarean section on a woman fatally injured in a car crash because they wrongly thought she was pregnant .
Paramedics believed that Adele Barbour was around eight months gone when they pulled her from the wreckage of her Vauxhall Meriva when it collided with an oncoming car.
An inquest into her death revealed that 40 medics tried in vain to save her life after the ambulance crew alerted Lincoln County Hospital they were bringing in a pregnant woman in her late 30s.
A C-section was started after hospital medics prepared to save the ‘mother’ and ‘unborn child ‘.
They later discovered Adele there was no baby and in fact her swollen belly was caused by scoliosis and spina bifida.
The inquest at was told that doctors were taking rapid steps to save her life and an investigation has revealed they did nothing wrong by carrying out a C-section.
But her family have revealed they were upset that they only found out about the procedure when the coroner told them the day after she died.
Miss Barbour, 48, was pulled from the wreckage of her car and rushed to hospital after she collided with an oncoming Toyota Yaris while attempting to turn right off the A46 into Washdyke Lane, Nettleham.
A statement by Miss Barbour’s sister Sarah-Jane Spence at the inquest said she was “incredibly proud of my big sister”, adding that Miss Barbour was a much-loved auntie to her two boys.
Mrs Spence also spoke of her sister’s courage and determination even as a child.
She said: “She was unable to walk at all until she was seven years old, but this never stopped her – she got around on her bottom.”
She added: “She is sorely missed by all of us.”
She also said that doctors did not initially tell the family about the C-section, despite two chances to do so.
She said: “On the day Adele was admitted, the doctor omitted to mention the C-section when she told us Adele was being moved to theatre, and neither did she tell us about it when she informed us of her death.
“Adele attended on January 17. On arrival to hospital the doctor told us she had gone to theatre.
“She did not communicate the suggestion that she was pregnant or that they had carried out a C-section.
“The coroner’s officer rang the next day and asked me if I was aware they thought she was pregnant and I said that I knew nothing about it.
“They have a duty of candour to be open and honest but they were not and that caused us additional heartache.
“I truly believe that the interests of everyone involved in her care was to save her life.
“But knowing the truth would have helped us with this process.”
Adele lost consciousness and repeatedly went into cardiac arrest after the crash on January 17 last year.
The inquest heard that doctors were trying to keep her alive, but she was too unwell for a CT scan and so she was sent to theatre for an abdominal examination to find the source of internal bleeding.
She went into cardiac arrest on the operating table and died at 5.40pm despite attempts to resuscitate her.
The medical cause of death was a laceration of the aorta and coroner Marianne Johnson concluded that Miss Barbour died as a result of a road crash.
The court heard Miss Barbour, from Lincoln, had surgery for spina bifida in 1975 and was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2016.
She attended St Francis School, in Lincoln, as a child before studying cake decorating at Grimsby College.
Miss Barbour gained her independence when she passed her driving test at the aged of 18.
One of her passions in life was weekends away taking in London West End shows.
The court heard that a report into Miss Barbour’s care concluded that communication with her family was “poor and did not meet standards”.
But United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust has since made considerable changes to the system to be open and honest with bereaved families, the inquest heard.
Dr Anthony Leetman, who produced a report which investigated the actions of paramedics and the trauma team, concluded it was Miss Barbour’s appearance that led ambulance crews to believe she was pregnant.
He wrote: “The crew pre-alerted the hospital quite correctly. It was entirely reasonable to proceed to C-section.
“The trauma team can only proceed on the information that is presented to it.
“Given the information to the hospital by EMAS, appropriate actions were taken.”
Dr Leetman added that most people who sustain the injury that Miss Barbour had do not even make it to hospital.
He wrote: “Sadly, she was very likely to die in any event.”
The inquest heard that she may well not have survived even if she had been taken straight away to a specialist unit at the Queen’s Medical Centre, in Nottingham.
Responding to questions from the family, intensive care consultant Dr Edward Cowley explained the treatment Miss Barbour received.
He said: “I did not know she was 48. The information we had was that she was in her late 30s – she would have been an elderly pregnancy had that information been correct.
“I watched the obstetrician examine her. They could not definitively say she was not pregnant.
“If she was pregnant, it was very likely she was bleeding to death from an injury to the uterus.
“It was a minute and a half to two minutes for the [C-section] incision and for the information to be fed back.
“Meanwhile, there were about 40 people in the room trying to keep Adele alive.
“The team felt she was too unwell and they would be wasting time putting her through the CT scanner.
“The priority was to find the things that were killing Adele in the order that they were killing her.”
Coroner Johnson said: “The evidence that I have heard is that the initial mis-diagnosis [of pregnancy] did not cause or contribute to her death.
“It appears all efforts were made in her care to try to save her but her injuries was so severe the outcome was inevitable.
“My conclusion is that Adele died as a result of a road traffic collision.”