Jenny Masson aged 18, before an athma attack left her brain starved of oxygen.
Jenny Masson aged 18, before an athma attack left her brain starved of oxygen.

Family’s bid for $3m asthma attack compo

THE family of a young asthmatic Queensland woman who was left brain dead when she was allegedly given the wrong drug by ambulance officers after an attack, are taking their fight for $3 million compensation to the state's highest court.

In documents filed in the Court of Appeal in Brisbane, the estate of Jennifer Leanne Masson claims the Queensland Ambulance Service's negligence was to blame for her brain damage.

They allege ambulance officers should have immediately given Masson a shot of adrenaline when they arrived, but instead gave her the drug salbutamol.

The QAS argued salbutamol was a reasonable response given Masson had a rapid heart rate and had high blood pressure.

The estate is trying to overturn a Supreme Court decision handed down in July which cleared the QAS of liability for Masson's injuries.

The parties had previously agreed that if QAS was liable, damages would be set at $3 million.

Masson was a 25-year-old chronic asthmatic when she had an attack on July 21, 2002 at a friend's house in Cairns.

 

Jenny Masson (25) with mum Gloria and father Keith. Jenny suffered an asthma attack that starved her brain of so much oxygen that she has been left with chronic disabilities barely able to move or to feed herself.
Jenny Masson (25) with mum Gloria and father Keith. Jenny suffered an asthma attack that starved her brain of so much oxygen that she has been left with chronic disabilities barely able to move or to feed herself.

 

When the QAS arrived at the scene, six minutes after a triple-0 call, she was not breathing, her face was blue, she was flaccid and unresponsive and she was at risk of going into immediate cardiac arrest.

The Supreme Court heard that Masson had previously used adrenaline to treat severe asthma attacks, but QAS officers were unaware of this when they treated her.

She carried a Ventolin puffer and had been prescribed an EpiPen (to self-administer adrenaline) but there was no evidence she had it with her or used it on the night she collapsed.

Jenny Masson aged 18, before an athma attack left her brain starved of oxygen.
Jenny Masson aged 18, before an athma attack left her brain starved of oxygen.

After 10 days in intensive care in Cairns, Masson was flown to the NSW south coast where she lived with her parents. She was chronically disabled, barely able to move and unable to feed herself, and required round-the-clock care.

She died two years ago.

Masson's estate alleges in the notice of appeal that Justice James Henry made a mistake when he failed to find that the QAS's failure to train its staff in relation to the correct use of adrenaline was negligent.

Justice Henry found that the QAS decision to use salbutamol in preference to adrenaline "was a reasonable response to the known risks".

No date has been set for the appeal hearing.