29 March 2017
Boy’s Avoidable Death Demands NHS Review of Asthma Treatment
A nine-year-old boy who died from chronic asthma could have been saved if he hadn’t been discharged from hospital days earlier, a coroner has ruled.
I was saddened to read the news of the tragic death of Michael Uriely, a brilliant chess champion, who died from an asthma attack, five days after being sent home from the Royal Free Hospital in London.
He had been seen by several doctors, including an NHS GP, private paediatrician and hospital staff, in the months before his death. Investigations by coroner, Dr Shirley Radcliffe, concluded that if the Royal Free Hospital had kept Michael in care instead of sending him home he might not have died.
In 2014 I was appointed by the family of eight-year-old Clayton Barker, who tragically died after paramedics were delayed because his grandmother's 999 call was wrongly categorised as less serious than it was.
It is every parent’s fear that when their child is ill, help is unavailable when needed.
It is every parent’s fear that when their child is ill, help is unavailable when needed. In this instance, Michael’s parents did everything that they could by taking them to the specialist help available and it is unacceptable that medical negligence resulted in avoidable death of a talented young boy.
According to expert paediatrician, Dr Richard Iles, Michael should have been referred to a specialist as there were a number of clear signs that the care programme was not working months earlier.
The Royal Free Hospital carried out two internal investigations after Michael's death and concluded that staff failed to diagnose him with chronic asthma and the care he was given was not adequate.
Dr Radcliffe said that if Michael had remained in hospital on a high dose of steroids with a referral to a respiratory specialist "it's unlikely he would have died".
The inquest heard that seven other children in London have died from asthma since Michael’s death in August 2015.
Clearly an NHS review is imperative so that trusts may learn from this list of avoidable mistakes and see that, going forward, people suffering from asthma-related complications receive the correct, timely treatment that they need.
Zak Golombeck is an associate, specialising in medical negligence claims at Slater and Gordon in Manchester.
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