A 9-year-old boy died soon after being sent home from St Helens and Knowsley NHS Trust Accident and Emergency department when a doctor misdiagnosed his condition. Patients in Essex hospitals who are concerned about a lack of transparency among NHS staff may be interested to hear that the Health Service Ombudsman has noted 40 separate incidents where hospital officials have sought to avoid full disclosure when complaints concerning treatment have been made.
The boy died from sepsis six hours after a junior doctor diagnosed him as having a chest infection and sent him home. The Trust told the child’s mother that it had carried out an investigation into the treatment that her son had received and pronounced that he had received acceptable care. But she feared that the hospital had sent him home because of a shortage of beds, and after two meetings with hospital staff she felt that hospital officials were not being forthcoming and were hiding the true facts.
The Ombudsman conducted its own investigation into the events prior to her son’s death and became suspicious about the accuracy of the records. It found that a hospital consultant had initially suspected that the boy might have sepsis but failed to act accordingly. Another doctor was suspended for allegedly falsifying the child’s medical records by adding an observation report to show no indication of sepsis. The Ombudsman ruled that the boy’s death was an avoidable incident and the NHS Trust is revisiting its internal investigation around his death.
Taking legal action where there have been instances of hospital negligence can bring to light the errors and failures of medical staff and hold individuals responsible for their actions. Patients who suspect that they have not received appropriate professional care may wish to consult with a solicitor who has experience with these types of claims.