File picture: Pixabay
File picture: Pixabay

Medics decided boy, 11, didn't need to be hospitalised; hours later he was dead

By CLAIRE DUFFIN Time of article published Jun 14, 2019

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London - A boy's death from an asthma attack could have been prevented if he had been taken to hospital sooner, a coroner has ruled.

George Smith, 11, was not ‘thoroughly assessed’ by paramedics who had been called to his home, an inquest heard.

They decided he did not need to go to hospital and left him in the care of his parents. But his condition deteriorated and he suffered a second attack hours later from which he did not recover.

East Midlands Ambulance Service Trust has accepted that George would probably have lived if he had been taken to hospital initially. His parents, Melanie Townend and Robert Smith, are now taking legal action against the trust over their son’s death. Miss Townend said: ‘My life is consumed with grief. His death has caused unimaginable pain that at the moment I can’t see past.’

The inquest heard that George suffered from brittle asthma, a severe form of the condition, and needed to make frequent trips to hospital. His mother said he had enjoyed a ‘perfect day out’ with his four sisters on October 22, 2017.

George was watching a film with his parents when he started coughing loudly. Miss Townend called an ambulance to their home in Stickney, Lincolnshire, at around 11pm.

When the ambulance crew arrived George was struggling to breathe. The crew stayed at the house for about 45 minutes. In a statement, Martin Whittaker, an emergency medical technician, said he had conducted a ‘peak flow assessment’ to test how air was flowing out of George’s lungs.

The inquest in Boston, Lincolnshire, was told the results indicated that he should have been taken to hospital, but the crew decided not to do so because he could stand unaided and speak in full sentences.

Hours later, he suffered another attack and collapsed. His mother called a second ambulance at 3.40am.

George had gone into cardiac arrest and his father started CPR. An ambulance took him to hospital, but attempts to resuscitate him failed.

Recording a narrative conclusion, Coroner Paul Smith said: ‘On the balance of probabilities, he would have survived if he was taken in the first ambulance.’

The trust said lessons had been learned. ‘Tragically, there was a failure to adequately follow the paediatric care policy,’ it said in a statement.

Daily Mail

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