12 Jun, 2014 @ 13:20
1 min read

Sleepwalker left fighting for life after falling 50ft from Malaga hotel room

Amy Wigfull e

A BRITISH holidaymaker is battling serious injuries after falling more than 50ft from her Malaga hotel room, while sleepwalking.

Amy Wigfull, 24, from Sheffield, is lucky to be alive after suffering a broken back, fractured pelvis, broken ribs, shattered shoulders, bleeding on the brain and a punctured lung.

Amy was put on life-support when she arrived in hospital in the early hours of Sunday morning, but has since been taken off the machine.

Spanish doctors have put her incredible survival down to her relaxed ‘sleep’ state, as she was unaware she had climbed out of the window and fallen.

Amy’s aunt Clare Duffy said: “We are devastated, but we know she is lucky to be alive.

“She went to bed and that was the last thing she knew. If she had been awake when she fell five floors it would have been horrendous.”

Tragically Amy had no holiday insurance – as she believed she was covered for health problems by the free European Health Insurance card – and is now also facing an enormous hospital bill.

“We have no idea what the final bill will be,” added Amy’s aunt. “But we’re not thinking about that, we just want her to get better and back home but it’s going to be a long period of recovery.”

Doctors are waiting for her condition to stabilize before she can have a series of operations.

A display designer at a fashion store, Amy was on a three-day break in Malaga with 14 other women, to celebrate the 40th birthdays of her mum and aunt.

According to toxicology tests, Amy had not taken any drugs and was not drunk at the time of her fall.

Her family are now trying to raise €20,000 to fly her home to Sheffield.

Imogen Calderwood

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  1. Mandatory travel insurance should be factored into all tickets abroad so that confusion with EHIC issues (and of course forgetting to get travel insurance) never arise again.

  2. As someone who worked in Travel Insurance for over a decade, every single case of ‘sleepwalking’ that I dealt with, all had alcohol blood level counts 4 times the UK drink drive limit. Every one of them were told they were not covered by their Insurers because of that fact.

    We did have one family who took the Insurers to court, they lined up family and friends to state that the person had been a sleepwalker since childhood. Normally such a condition would have a GP supporting this, but not in this case, the Judge threw the claim out, the family had to pay £30k+ for treatment and an air ambulance back to the UK.

    Likewise, all these idiots who jump across balconies and even into pools from a great height are not covered. Again a family went to court, they claimed that the actions of the teen, fuelled by alcohol, in jumping and falling 4 stories was the norm for lads his age on holiday and should be deemed an insurable accident, claim thrown out.

    Simple fact is, Insurers cover all overseas medical claims that were (a) not pre-existing,(b) preventable and (c) the fault of someone else.

    Those who don’t take out cover have no one but themselves to blame for any costs incurred.

  3. “According to toxicology tests, Amy had not taken any drugs and was not drunk at the time of her fall.”

    Mark, seems this case was an exception to what you said then. Unless the toxicology tests were all wrong?

  4. Don’t drink on holiday and your insurance may work! A bit like buildings insurance in Spain, they state sorry, your building was a bit old so we are not paying out as that rain fall was normal, your property is the problem… Always a way out of those policies but I still have one with worldwide cover for the family.

  5. Can someone explain to me why the EHIC does not cover her medical expenses? I’m a bit worried by this story, as I regularly travel to Spain without travel insurance, because I thought the EHIC was all I needed for medical cover.

    (I have had reason to be glad of the EHIC in the past, though not in Spain.)

  6. Hmm.. a bit of googling found this:

    Looks like it’s important to go to a *public* hospital if possible. This lady may have had the misfortune to be taken to a private hospital.

    Still, she’s probably just glad to be alive! Here’s hoping she makes a quick and complete recovery…

  7. Lorcan, the EHIC gives you a basic level of state healthcare in your destination country. In this case the persons very serious injuries have surpassed this basic level of cover. EHIC is really for one-off minor injuries and not for on-going health conditions. Travel insurance is essential. Never skimp on it and always check the small print. Spain has been told by the EU to honour the EHIC as they are selectively implementing it in true Spanish-style, as they do with most EU laws lol. Even more reason to get good travel insurance.

  8. Fred, that’s interesting – I guess it comes down to what a basic level of healthcare means. I’ve looked at various websites to try to see what exactly is covered by EHIC, and it’s interesting how vague the information is. It seems to be left up to each state to decide what level of service to provide. I guess that’s unavoidable, since the basic principle seems to be that you have to treat EHIC holders the same way you would treat one of your own citizens – and the medical care provided by different states for their own citizens varies widely.

    My own experience: in 2011, I had a (thankfully minor) heart attach while on holiday in Italy. I was taken to a public hospital, admitted through the A&E into the cardiac care unit where I spent a week under close monitoring and lots of medication and testing. Then discharged, made my way (as instructed) to a larger hospital where I was re-admitted and had an angiogram, angioplasty and a stent fitted. Discharged then, spent a few days resting and flew home. (I’m fine now, thanks!)

    The Italian health service didn’t want a penny off me. I had private medical insurance with international cover, and separate travel insurance – but neither paid a cent towards my medical care – the EHIC covered the whole thing.

    My travel insurance proved completely useless. The medical cover wasn’t needed due to EHIC, but I was out of pocket for cancelled airline tickets, additional tickets, extra accommodation (for my wife, while I was in hospital), etc. The policy required that separate claims were made for different categories, and there was a 205 euro excess on each separate category – with the result that I couldn’t claim anything.

    So after that experience I had given up on travel insurance as a pointless waste of money (when travelling within the EU) and had put my faith in the EHIC. This story has shaken that faith a little… Guess I need to do some more research and consider taking out *good* travel insurance.

    (Note: I would never dream of travelling *outside* the EU without good travel insurance, especially not to the USA where medical expenses could bankrupt a millionaire in no time.)

  9. Lorcan, you are correct, the country itself interprets the level of care, and that’s especially true in Spain. I know people who are non-resident and who have received excellent (and free) healthcare in Spanish hospitals from both medical specialists and surgeons, and not just GPs. Then again, there are incidents where people have been turfed out with the most basic level of care. I found the opposite with travel insurance and had had pay-outs for both lost items and for unused/cancelled tickets – again, it depends on the policy (and its small print) and of course the price you pay for it.

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