Our daughter Jane died from SUDEP & possibly from ours and her ignorance. Nearly half of all SUDEP deaths are avoidable. Stay Alive - Read On.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Guilty perhaps, but was the risk of SUDEP explained properly?

A jury in Smith County, Texas has ruled that a murder was committed.  This case is interesting because the person who died had epilepsy, and a risk of SUDEP was taken into account as part of the proceedings.  To read the report click here.  If I can quote from that report:
"Medical records Bingham presented in court showed that Ms. Walker had been without her anti-seizure medication for over a month and had no seizures during that time.  Defense attorney Jeff Haas asked Ulrich about the possibility of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. The doctor replied that it was very rare and had a less than 10 percent chance of happening, but that it is a possibility."
Essentially the defence claim that the risk of SUDEP is "very rare", and this is a phrase has an emotional effect on any jury to ignore the risk.  The same reaction would seem normal in any person with epilepsy.  The risk is "very rare", so please ignore this risk.

That is the heart of the matter.  The risk is "very rare".  Or is it?  The reality is not all people with epilepsy are at the same risk.

Sadly the report makes no mention of the age of the deceased.  Clearly any reader of this blog will have read that young adults are at greater risk.  I would say that a young adult (age 20-30) has twice the risk.  So whether Ms Walker a young adult might have been relevant point to make.

Countering against that, males are at twice the risk of females.  And clearly Ms Walker was a female.

In the end the main problem though is the medical assessment of whether Ms Walker was at risk should have been made prior to her death.  People with severe epilepsy are at greater risk, as are people with uncontrolled seizures.

But right now the evidence of risk is very poor.  Here in the UK we are garnering more information on risk.  Across the world people are waking up and discussing the risk of death from SUDEP.  Because of work by organisations such as Epilepsy Bereaved we are getting more reports on SUDEP as the years roll by.  More reports analysed by coroners, more reports analysed by neurologists means better assessments.

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