An inquest is due to be held on Wednesday 2 November 2016 in relation to the tragic death of a five year old boy, ‘A J’, who died following treatment at Hillingdon Hospital on 22 December 2015.
On 21 December 2015, A J’s mother took him to see his GP with a temperature, a cough, and a rash over his body. His chest seemed clear on examination, and his mother was told to ensure that her son rested and drank plenty of fluids. A J was prescribed cough syrup, Cetirizine for his rash, and Dioralyte to rehydrate him.
During the night, A J began to suffer from diarrhoea. His cough became wheezy and he continued to have a high temperature. By the early hours of the morning, his parents decided to take him to the accident and emergency (A&E) department of Hillingdon Hospital, and they arrived just before 4am. He was admitted to the paediatrics ward and a medical history was taken. A J was initially treated for croup (a viral respiratory infection) and was given oral steroids and provided with an oxygen mask. When his cough did not improve, he was transferred to the resuscitation area of the A&E department at 4.15am.
A J became agitated. His heart rate and breathing rate were abnormally high, and his oxygen saturation levels were low. Despite his deteriorating condition, which was not improving with treatments for croup, alternative diagnoses were not considered by Hillingdon Hospital doctors.
At approximately 12.15pm, doctors tried to cannulate to take blood and administer IV antibiotics, but the attempts were unsuccessful and as A J was getting increasingly agitated, it was decided that they would try again later. A further attempt to cannulate was made at 2.30pm, and doctors noticed a non-blanching rash under his armpits. At this point, sepsis was suspected, so blood tests and a chest X-ray were ordered. The X-ray showed right lower lobe consolidation, and blood results demonstrated metabolic acidosis and a high lactate level, indicative of sepsis. IV antibiotics were administered and an assessment of toxic shock syndrome was made after almost 12 hours in A&E.
The hospital’s anaesthetics team was called, and the Children’s Acute Transport Service (CATS) from Great Ormond Street Hospital was contacted at 4pm. On arrival at 6pm, the CATS staff tried to stabilise A J, and a decision was made to transport him to Great Ormond Street Hospital in order to use extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) equipment which was felt to be his best chance of survival.
At 8pm, A J was transferred by ambulance to Great Ormond Street Hospital but he suffered cardiac arrest during transfer, and CPR was commenced. Attempts to resuscitate continued on arrival at the hospital, but very sadly he passed away soon after 9pm. A post-mortem carried out showed that the cause of death was bacterial pneumonia with sepsis.
The inquest will take place before HM senior coroner for West London, Chinyere Inyama, at the West London Coroner’s Court. The deceased’s family will be represented at the inquest by Penningtons Manches and Isaac Hogarth of 12 Kings Bench Walk Chambers, London.
Rosie Nelson, a clinical negligence solicitor at Penningtons Manches acting on behalf of the family, said: “This is a tragic event involving the death of such a young boy, and raises serious questions and concerns surrounding the treatment he received in hospital. It is hoped that the inquest will help to provide the family with a certain amount of solace by answering some of the questions arising from his death and prevent further unnecessary deaths.”
The family said: “We would like to thank members of our family, friends, A J’s primary school and Jesus House, London, for all their support, prayers and encouragement at our time of bereavement. We pray no other family has to go through this tragic and sorrowful episode of losing their child unnecessarily.”