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Janet Coxen's potentially fatal adder bite not spotted twice by doctors
A HAMPSHIRE mum is demanding an investigation after claiming that medics twice failed to spot that she had been bitten by a snake.
Janet Coxen was standing in long grass in her back garden when the adder struck, plunging its fangs in her ankle and injecting it with venom.
The Chandler’s Ford foster care worker suffered excruciating pain in her leg, a swollen ankle and severe headaches.
As the pain got worse she sought advice from a GP at Eastleigh Health Centre who she says gave her antibiotics and assured her that it was not a snake bite.
The next day when the pain was still severe friends insisted that she went to A&E at Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester.
There she said that doctors gave her the same response and dismissed her theory that a snake was responsible.
In desperation she contacted Grange Reptiles, Botley, and spoke to Adie Roberts, reptile expert and former paramedic, who looked at a photo of the puncture wounds and then examined her foot.
He told her to go straight to hospital and called ahead to let them know that a woman with a “very serious” snake bite was on her way in.
She was treated with drugs that counteract the effect of the venom and kept in overnight at Southampton General Hospital.
Janet said: “I don’t like to make a fuss about this kind of thing. I saw two puncture marks on my ankle with blood trickling from them but thought it must be a scratch.
“I was in agony when I went to the doctor’s and hospital and I felt humiliated at being mocked.
“When it was confirmed as a snake bite I was petrified.”
The 54-year-old mum-of-three is now calling for an investigation into how medics missed the diagnosis, and is lodging a complaint against the Winchester and E a s t l e i g h Healthcare NHS Trust, the body in charge of the Winchester hospital.
Adie said: “I knew immediately from the picture she sent it was definitely an adder bite, there is simply nothing else it could be, and I think it is horrific the doctors didn’t pick up on it.
“I consulted a friend who looks after venomous snakes in London Zoo and we agreed it was a bad bite and she needed to get to hospital immediately. It is rare for people to die of adder bites in this country but they do.”
He went on to say that the hot weather and heavy rain over the past few weeks had probably led the snake to take refuge in Janet’s garden.
A Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust spokesman said: “We are sorry if Mrs Coxen feels the care she received in A&E fell below our normal high standard. If she would like to get in touch we will fully investigate the matter.”
No one from NHS Hampshire, which overseas Eastleigh Health Centre, was available for comment.
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