Medical negligence concerns

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Medical negligence concerns

With an increase in the incidence of meningitis in children in the UK; a recently reported article in the Manchester Evenings News is concerning and should be taken as a warning. The article headed “Dad of baby who died of meningitis pleaded with a doctor to give son a blood test – they replied ‘why?’” covered a case at the Royal Oldham Hospital, who admitted there were “missed opportunities” to save the life of a 12-month old child who sadly passed away from meningitis.

The child was taken to the Royal Oldham Hospital after his parents noticed he was vomiting and suffering from a high temperature. After a first visit he was sent home. His parents swiftly brought him back to following day after his health continued to deteriorate, unfortunately his parents’ concerns were not headed and he sadly died from meningitis three days later.

At an inquest into the death, a senior Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust paediatrician said that opportunities had been missed to detect how seriously ill the child was. He was not given a neurological assessment, his observations were not reviewed, the concerns raised by his parents were not documented in his notes, and when it was discovered that the child was hypothermic on his second visit to hospital, it should have been treated as a ‘red flag’ but this was not acted upon.

Doctors at any Trust should follow certain guidelines, on this occasion the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines and the Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust guidelines should have been followed. Had this been done there would not have been such a significant delay in recognising the extent of the child’s condition.

Following this incident a new policy has been introduced at the hospital so that patients who are readmitted should be seen by a registrar and their case should be discussed with a consultant. The number of consultants has also been increased to 12, and at least two registrars are now available at night.

In light of the tragic case above, it is important that parents are vigilant and watch out for symptoms of meningitis. According to the NHS website symptoms of meningitis develop suddenly and can include:
• a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
• being sick
• a headache
• a rash that does not fade when a glass is rolled over it (but this will not always develop)
• a stiff neck
• a dislike of bright lights
• drowsiness or unresponsiveness
• fits (seizures)

These symptoms can appear in any order. You do not always get all the symptoms.

You should get medical advice as soon as possible if you’re concerned that you or your child could have meningitis. Trust your instincts and do not wait until a rash develops. Call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E department immediately if you think you or your child might be seriously ill.

Call NHS 111 or your GP surgery for advice if you’re not sure if it’s anything serious or you think you may have been exposed to someone with meningitis.

If you or your child has been affected by a delay in diagnosis or treatment of meningitis, you can contact Morrish’s experienced Medical Negligence team on 033 3344 9600.

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