Hospital’s lack of care over schoolgirl’s death

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THE “blasé attitude” of staff at Basildon Hospital has been slammed by a grieving family after the hospital was blamed for a lack of care that contributed to the death of a 15-year-old girl.

Amie Miller had suffered headaches for a week when she began to vomit and suffer convulsions on 16 November 2008, she was immediately rushed to Basildon Hospital A&E before being transferred to the Adult Intensive Care Unit where she later died.

Hospital staff have been criticised by a jury and a coroner who heard details of her death last week.

Amie died on 19 November from brain stem death after a large amount of fluid built up around her brain.

Assistant Coroner for Essex, Michelle Brown heard how neurological observations, such as checking if Amie could open her eyes or if her pupils were dilated, which could have indicated her condition was deteriorating, were not carried out.

The court heard changes have since been made with the pupils of patients in ITU checked every two hours.

Summing up at the inquest on Wednesday, 18 September HM Assistant Coroner for Essex Michelle Brown said much of the evidence was unclear. She said: “What we do know is Amie was fit and healthy until the week before her death when she developed headaches and was admitted to Basildon Hospital.

“The lack of neurological observation was a problem. There was confusion in evidence for the following reasons:

1. Who had cared for Amie- various nurses and consultants were involved?
2. What was being used to record neurological observations and how this was recorded and communicated?
3. What systems were in place to recognise appropriate treatment?
4. What systems were in place for communicating the care plan?
5. The outcome may well have been the same.”

After two and a half hours of deliberation the jury recorded a narrative verdict saying: “Whilst initial treatment plan appeared to be appropriate, there was a serious failure to meet Amie’s needs by failing to carry out basic neurological checks, administering inappropriate treat-ments and a general failure in communication.”

The delivery of the jury’s verdict, using the terminology “serious failure” was in the strongest possible term open to them.

Responding to the verdict Amie’s stepfather Mr Mbarek Aitmarri said: “There were suspicions from how the doctors were reacting when she was brain stem dead.

“The behaviour of the doctors and nurses they evaded our questions and we were passed around from one meeting to another.”

“There is no doubt that their treatment caused Amie’s death. I would give anything in my heart to bring her back. Large numbers of children that fit come out of hospital the next day. There were systematic failures and one error after another. Their attitude has been blasé. It just sums up Basildon Hospital.”

“It’s sad to see our child become just a statistic, one of these numbers. I can’t believe it. If these things had not gone on, Amie would still be with us but nothing has changed at the hospital. This should force the hospital into a reaction.

“We agreed to give Amie’s organs for donation and I was surprised that they asked us in the first half an hour to do so, meaning a post mortem could not be delivered. That is one of the things that will always stay with us.

“We haven’t grieved, we have been in limbo. We haven’t been given a reason why Amie died, you can’t grieve, we have that void.

“It has taken us five years to get this far and we would have liked more detail about the actual failings.”

The family’s solicitor, Tim Spring, a clinical negligence specialist, said: “We expected the care to be criticised. It would have been nice if there were more detail but the jury are constrained. The Trust should now hold an independent investigation with independent experts in paediatric intensive care, neuroradiology, nursing and neurology.”

The Enquirer understands the family will now look into further action against the Trust.

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