Coroner Slams Hospital for Failure to Spot Meningitis; Criticism for Medics after Death of 10-Year-Old Who Was Sent Home
Byline: Rod Minchin
A HOSPITAL was criticised by a coroner yesterday for failing to spot that a 10-year-old boy was gravely ill, later dying from meningitis.
William Cressey died from the brain condition a day after he had been sent home from Darlington Memorial Hospital.
The inquest heard that when the schoolboy returned to the hospital and was in a lot of pain he begged one doctor: "Please help me - if you don't help me, I'm going to die."
Yet the desperate youngster was refused antibiotics until it was too late and eventually suffered a massive seizure, slipping into a coma from which he never recovered.
Newcastle Coroner David Mitford recorded a narrative verdict. He said William's death was due to: "Natural causes to which a delay in giving antibiotic treatment for meningitis may have contributed."
Mr Mitford said it was a "reasonable decision" for doctors to have admitted William to the hospital on February 27, 2005, to observe his condition.
"Meningitis was considered and discounted by consultants involved after examination the following morning.
" It was felt that there was no evidence to lead to the conclusion, at that time, that this was a case of meningitis," he said.
"If he was well, he could be sent home later in the day. This was a reasonable decision."
The coroner said meningitis had been considered and rejected by doctors and he was "not satisfied" on the evidence given that there was sufficient evidence to form a diagnosis of meningitis.
Mr Mitford said that William's mother, Cheryl Cressey, was emotional and upset at her son's ill health and her evidence - which was very critical of the hospital's care to her son - has become "coloured by her emotions and consequently is exaggerated".
Mr Mitford went on to criticise the hospital for the way it observed William during that day.
He said: "The evidence of that observation in the notes is startlingly inadequate - there being no narrative detail whatsoever and only one entry in the temperature chart and three entries of pain killers being administered during that day.
"The evidence of qualified nursing observation during the afternoon was unsatisfactory and it seems any observation undertaken had been left to auxiliaries and went unrecorded and unreported."
Mrs Cressey was too upset to speak after the inquest but released a statement through her Manchester-based law firm, Pannone. …