Recently, a case of health officials sued reached court. It all started last September, a girl 13 years old fell ill and was sent to the emergency room complaining of headaches, slurred speech and vomiting and was diagnosed with migraines. A doctor in training and a consultant at the hospital suggested a scan be done but neither told the pediatric team of their thoughts. The consultant had felt it was not his place to tell the team what to do although he felt they would give the girl a scan. He was comfortable with referring them to the team where the possibilities of including migraines, a brain tumor and trauma were discussed.
The illness recurred and the girl went to see her general practitioner in October who diagnosed her with migraine and prescribed medication to prevent the migraines. He was unaware that a scan had done not been done on the girl and felt there was no uncertainty about her diagnosis.
Three weeks later the girl died in her sleep.
The cause of her death as determined by a post-mortem was a gastric hemorrhage caused by a combination of the medications she took for her headaches and her brain condition of hydrocephalus which is a build-up of fluid on the brain. This defect was un-diagnosed when she was born and so the fluid was unable to drain away.
The pathologist who did the examination said that had a routine MRI or CT scan been, her condition would have been picked up and it could have been treated by surgery. The deputy coroner commented that red flags could have been identified but were not so the girl was never able to have the cause of her symptoms further investigated.
The night that the girl died, she had complained of a headache and her mother put a cool flannel on her head and stayed with her until she fell asleep. The next morning, the mother found her unresponsive and the father tried to resuscitate her but all was in vain.
The parents are looking for an apology from the trust as they feel their daughter might still be alive if she had had a scan. The solicitors representing them have said that there was an opportunity to investigate the girl’s symptoms after her discharge from the hospital and it was not done. There are now questions as to whether the girl would still be alive if an urgent CT scan had been done followed by a crucial operation. Consequently, the family is pursuing a claim for medical negligence.