Despite her fame, Anna Nicole Smith‘s final days were anything but glamorous. She had been suffering from a stomach flu and a 105-degree fever, the latter resulting from a pus-filled infection on her buttocks from repeated injections. Amid this misery, she accidentally overdosed on at least nine prescription drugs on Feb. 8, 2007, according to a coroner’s report on her cause of death. One of those drugs, the sedate choral hydrate, is even the same drug that contributed to the death of Anna’s idol Marilyn Monroe.
When she fell ill on Feb. 5, 2007, the 39-year-old had just arrived in Fort Lauderdale, FL, from a trip to the Bahamas, where she and partner Howard K. Stern had been shopping for yachts. Both Howard and Anna’s physician tried to get her to go to the hospital, but she refused because “she did not want the media frenzy that follows her,” as Howard’s lawyers later said. Instead, she chose to ride out her ailment. She took antibiotics and an ice bath, but she still sweat through the sheets of her bed at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. According to an assistant medical examiner’s report cited by The Associated Press, her hotel room was littered with cold medicines, soda cans, SlimFast, nicotine gum, and an open box of Tamiflu tablets.
Anna was taking large amounts of chloral hydrate at the time, sometimes swigging from the bottle. She was also taking other prescriptions in normal doses, seeking to treat her anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Anna’s son, Daniel, had died the previous year, and Howard’s lawyer said Anna had been having nightmares and hallucinations. Broward County Medical Examiner Dr. Joshua Perper said Anna probably didn’t realize her chloral hydrate doses were potentially fatal when taken in combination with other prescription drugs, and her flu and fever had already weakened her body.
The report didn’t answer at least one lingering question: why it took so long for someone to call 911. A private nurse asked a bodyguard to call for medical help around 1 p.m. that day, but the 911 call wasn’t placed until around 40 minutes later. But Perper explained the delay probably didn’t change the outcome.
“The earlier you come to a hospital, the more you have a chance, but there’s not a guarantee,” he said. “Those are not things with a mathematic precision, but within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, I don’t think she had really a realistic chance.”
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