A medical team treating a critically ill patient "ruled out" her eventual cause of death, an inquest has heard.

Heather Bills, 64, died at Middlemore Hospital on January 2, 2013, six weeks after she was badly burned in an explosive house fire.

It was later discovered that she suffered a suspicious and massive hypoglycaemia-related cerebral injury.

On the evening of November 22, 2012, Bills was pulled from the blaze after neighbours braved the inferno to rescue her from an upstairs room of her Orakei, Auckland home.

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Chief coroner Judge Deborah Marshall is presiding over the inquest in the Auckland District Court. Photo / Michael Craig
Chief coroner Judge Deborah Marshall is presiding over the inquest in the Auckland District Court. Photo / Michael Craig

She was then treated at the National Burns Centre and intensive care (ICU) as her condition improved at Middlemore. The fire was deliberately lit and she suffered burns to 35 per cent of her body.

Bills' health then quickly deteriorated on December 26-27, confusing doctors.

Detective Senior Sergeant Ross Ellwood has not ruled out reinvestigating the case based on the inquest's findings. Photo / Michael Craig
Detective Senior Sergeant Ross Ellwood has not ruled out reinvestigating the case based on the inquest's findings. Photo / Michael Craig

It became clear after an investigation that her death had been a result of higher levels of insulin in her body.

A coroner's inquest before chief coroner Judge Deborah Marshall is being held in the Auckland District Court to determine the source of the insulin.

Dr Lit Son Yoong, then working as a medical registrar at Middlemore, told the court today that he recalled asking for Bills' blood sugar levels as she quickly deteriorated.

"They told me that her blood pressure and blood sugars were fine," he said in an April 24, 2013 police statement.

"I recall a staff nurse said that blood sugar was 5 or 6, one of those two numbers - and anything above 4 and below 11 is within the acceptable range. Her blood pressure was unremarkable from memory. We therefore concluded that she was not suffering a hypoglycaemic episode or a hypotensive."

Heather Bills was rescued from her burning home but died in hospital. Photo / Michael Craig
Heather Bills was rescued from her burning home but died in hospital. Photo / Michael Craig

He said because the medical team "ruled out a hypoglycaemic event" they started looking for other causes to her being non-responsive to treatment.

"The other things that came to mind was maybe a stroke or a brain bleed," he said.

It was the first time he had seen or treated Bills.

He added that he did not see a glucometer, which tests the glucose in the blood, in the room, but accepted there may well have been.

Dr Amanjeet Singh Toor, who helped treat Bills, also told the court today that he did not consider Bills' condition was another suicide attempt.

The inquest has previously heard that Bills was offering cash to nurses to help her die.

Today Fiona Morse, a clinical resource nurse at Middlemore, said that Don Valk, the duty manager for the health care assistants, told her after Bills' death that she'd been offering nurses money.

"Don told me that it would've been nice to have known this information earlier when Heather was alive so that he could've informed the nursing staff," she told police on March 18, 2013.

While she was not working on Boxing Day, 2012 when Bills' health deteriorated, Morse said she recalled a colleague, named as Eve in police documents, also telling her that she'd seen a blood sugar kit in Bills' room.

"[Eve] wondered what it was doing there as she knew Heather wasn't diabetic," she said

When cross-examining Morse, Bills' daughter Michelle Maher said her mum had asked herself to help search Google for assisted suicide in Fiji.

However, Maher told her mum she was happy to help her in any way but not to end her life.

Bills had also expressed to nurses that she was "angry" and frustrated she had survived the fire.

Police have not ruled out reinvestigating the still open case based on the findings of the inquest.

WHERE TO GET HELP:

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:

• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757