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Last Updated: Friday, 26 March, 2004, 16:59 GMT
Hospital slammed over child death
Monklands Hospital
Monklands Hospital was criticised for delays in dealing with dying girl
A sheriff has launched a scathing attack on a hospital following the death of a young patient.

Anne Thompson, 12, had been taken to Monklands Hospital in Lanarkshire just three days before Christmas in 1999.

She died of pneumococcal meningitis the following day, but Sheriff Alfred Vannet accepted opinion that she might have survived with the right treatment.

The hospital was criticised for the way in which it handled referrals and for delays in dealing with the girl.

Anne, from Airdrie, was suffering from a massive swelling to her brain when she was admitted to the hospital.

But doctors failed to detect the condition and within 15 hours she was dead.

Sheriff Vannet said in his findings that Monklands Hospital had "neither an effective nor efficient way of handling referrals - particularly children - and that there was a catalogue of delays which is unacceptable in the case of an unwell and distressed child".

Complex case

But the doctor who was mainly responsible for treating the girl in the crucial hours before her death did not face criticism.

The sheriff made no reference to her in his determination, findings or recommendations, despite an admission by consultant paediatrician Dr Mary Loudon that she had been on call for 24 hours by the time the dying child was transferred to a specialist unit.

Dr Loudon had told the inquiry into the child's death: "It was a very complex and bizarre case. Meningitis never presents itself like this."

But Sheriff Vannet said he considered the opinion given to the inquiry by Dr Rosemary Hague of Glasgow's Royal Hospital for Sick Children to carry the most weight surrounding the death.

Dr Hague was of the view that a course of antibiotics shortly after the child's admission to hospital could have meant her survival, although there was a strong likelihood of brain damage.

Sheriff Vannet said: "Communication between paediatrics and Accident and Emergency staff do not appear to have worked in Anne's case, and for whatever reason A and E staff did not have information about her and were not expecting her.

"When the patient does arrive the receiving doctor should be contacted straight away and informed of the patient's arrival."

Procedures changed

Anne was transferred from Monklands Hospital eight hours after her admission, and put on a life support machine at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow.

But the following day she was pronounced dead.

Lanarkshire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has stressed that procedures have now been changed within Monklands Hospital.

In a statement issued following Sheriff Vannet's determination, it said: "This was a complex and difficult case, and one we deeply regret had a tragic outcome.

"In his determination, the sheriff recognised that new paediatric care procedures have been put into place and all emergency paediatric referrals now go directly to the centralised paediatric department at Wishaw General Hospital.

"We accept the sheriff's determination and will fully review its contents and consider carefully the recommendations he has made to ensure effective procedures and communications are in place."


SEE ALSO:
Teenager dies from meningitis
28 Jan 04  |  Cornwall
Meningitis and septicaemia
22 Jan 04  |  Medical notes
Vaccine 'could beat meningitis'
06 Jan 04  |  Health


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