20 October 2015
Pneumonia Misdiagnosis Results in Death from 'Massive Sepsis'
An inquest has heard how a five-year-old girl tragically died after two doctors misdiagnosed her pneumonia as a common virus.
Walthamstow Coroner’s Court was told the East London girl slipped into unconsciousness and died in her father’s arms on 5 December 2013, five days after she developed a temperature and rash.
The court heard how she became ill on 29 November and developed a rash and pains in her side the following day. After both ibuprofen and Calpol failed to help, her parents took her to see their GP, Dr Barzan Izzat at Ilford Medical Centre.
Dr Izzat told the inquest that he did not carry out a respiratory test to check for pneumonia. By tapping on the child’s chest it would have been possible to reveal whether her lungs contained fluid. “I noted she had a small rash on her neck, recorded her temperature and was told she was experiencing slight pain in her left ribs. She displayed signs of a viral infection to me. I did not take respiratory tests or carry out a percussion test on the left side of her chest,” he said.
When the girl’s breathing became shallower and the rash began spreading to her stomach, her parents took her to the emergency walk-in centre at King George Hospital in Ilford, that night.
There, a Dr Nazmul Mohsin told them their daughter had a viral infection and would be better in a couple of days. Dr Mohsin told the court: “She had this rash which was typical with viruses. It was a very typical of children that come to see us.”
The following day however, the little girl began vomiting, but when her parents asked to speak to their GP, they were apparently told this was not possible.
She died at Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone. A post-mortem examination revealed her death was caused by pneumonia, exacerbated by a virus, which resulted in massive sepsis.
Not only is this heart-breaking story another tremendously sad case involving sepsis that could so easily have been prevented, but it is also another tragic example of someone’s tell-tale symptoms going unnoticed. This little girl saw numerous GP’s who it seems all failed to listen to her chest.
As my little girl is just getting over an unnamed viral infection, I know just how easy it is to be dismissed by GPs in this way, however every time I’ve taken her to the GP for various issues they have listened to her chest and done a full examination. It’s incredibly sad that this little girl’s parents went to so many professionals and not one of them provided them with the correct treatment and advice.
Victoria Gofton is a Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Slater and Gordon in London.