12 February 2018
Mum-of-Five Dies After Doctors Mistake Meningitis For Migraine
A mum-of-five died after medics wrongly diagnosed TB meningitis as a common migraine.
Lissa Beechey, 39, was left bedridden by tiredness and crippling headaches and with eyes so sensitive she would have to wear sunglasses to block out the light.
But despite an urgent referral from her GP querying meningitis, doctors at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend diagnosed a migraine and sent her home with paracetamol.
She was admitted 10 days later but even when an X-ray, taken months earlier but never reviewed, showed telltale shadows on her lungs, medics again ruled out the infection.
Lissa was transferred to expert neurologists at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, but tragically passed away days later.
Husband Simon Aberstone, 49, who fell in love with Lissa after a whirlwind holiday romance, said: “I’m still so angry that this was allowed to happen.
“You don’t rule out TB until you’ve tested for it and if just one doctor had followed the correct procedures and given her the right medication then Lissa would still be here.”
Tuberculosis meningitis – the symptoms of which include fatigue, headaches, neck pain and dislike of bright lights – affects just 150 to 200 people in the UK each year.
Simon said Lissa showed all the signs when she was initially seen at the Princess of Wales’ Medical Assessment Unit on September 10, 2015, but no test for the infection was carried out.
She was discharged, but 10 days later returned to A&E with worsening symptoms and was admitted in a confused and disorientated state. After eventually requesting her X-ray results, taken three months earlier for an unrelated back problem, doctors excluded TB meningitis again despite the shadows on her lungs.
Due to Lissa’s deterioriating condition she was transferred to the University Hospital of Wales where she died on October 1.
Simon, from Bridgend, who works as a consultant in the construction industry, says he is still struggling to come to terms with her death, but tries to stay strong for their children, aged eight and twins aged 12. Lissa also had two older children from a previous relationship.
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board admitted negligence after court proceedings were issued, recently settling the case for an undisclosed sum. But Simon said he simply wanted an apology from those responsible and assurances that the hospital had learned from its mistakes.
“I’ve never actually had a formal apology from anyone involved, just in a letter through my solicitors,” he said.
“The individuals involved get to walk away and hide behind their employer, they get to go back to their lives and go home to their families, but we will never have that again.”
He added: “Lissa used to bring everyone together and it was one of the things I loved most about her. She had time for everyone, especially when they needed her help. We used to call her the Mother Teresa of Bridgend.
“Even I didn’t realise how many people’s lives she touched until her funeral. It was incredible, there wasn’t even standing room.
“She was just a special person and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. It’s hard to think of all the milestones she’ll miss, but I’m just doing my best to make sure the kids are looked after. I don’t think I’ve allowed myself time to grieve.
“They haven’t been out of my sight for the last two years. It’s hard, but they are what’s kept me strong and you have to try and find a way through it for them.”
The family’s lawyer, Kelly Lloyd-Davies, a clinical negligence specialist at Slater and Gordon in Cardiff, said: “The heartbreaking reality is that there were chances to save Lissa’s life, but procedures weren’t followed and as a result these were missed.
“While nothing can bring her back, lessons must be learned to prevent mistakes like this from happening again before any more lives are needlessly lost.”
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