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Disabled woman treated differently: carer

AAP logoAAP 5/12/2016 Andi Yu

A doctor treating an intellectually disabled woman who later died told her carer that if she was "normal" the hospital would treat her differently, the carer has told a court.

Shona Hookey, 29, died at Campbelltown Hospital on 19 July 2013 after her home care staff noticed she had gone cold, looked a strange colour and her abdomen was "rock hard".

The Sydney Coroners Court heard on Monday that Natasha McFarlane, who travelled with Ms Hookey by ambulance to the hospital, made a note of an "offensive" conversation with a doctor where he told her: "If she was 29 and normal, we would act differently".

Ms McFarlane, who burst into tears during her evidence, said the conversation gave her the impression Ms Hookey's disability meant her care was not going to be "adequate".

"I see her as a normal person," Ms McFarlane said.

A lawyer representing the doctor suggested to Ms McFarlane that she was mistaken about the doctor's comments that night, and that he had never said such a thing.

The doctor, Dinusha Kaluphana Mestrige, gave evidence that when Ms Hookey arrived in the ambulance bay he noticed she was "in pain", "screaming" and "making abnormal sounds".

He said Ms McFarlane informed him Ms Hookey had a history of eating foreign substances or objects.

He did not check Ms Hookey's vital signs, such as blood pressure or pulse, which, the court heard, paramedics had not been able to get.

"I was not thinking of any serious or life threatening situation at that stage," Dr Mestige said.

Deputy State Coroner Hugh Dillon questioned the doctor on why he did not make his own investigation of the patient's condition, but appeared to rely on background information from the carer about Ms Hookey's habit of ingesting foreign bodies.

"You hadn't done anything that might have given you some information about what was happening," Mr Dillon said.

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