Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has apologised after a coroner ruled that failures in the treatment of a baby girl from Morley who died of multiple organ failure at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI), amounted to neglect.
Eight month-old Eloise Lema Dalton died after the meningitis she’d contracted was misdiagnosed as a virus by doctors in December 2009.
An inquest into her death heard that Eloise’s mum Amy took her to LGI on December 11, with her daughter descibed as “listless and pale.” She also had mottled skin and a rash on her chest.
However, they were sent home by doctors with Miss Dalton under instructions to give her daughter Calpol, a paracetamol suspension for children. Two days later they returned to A&E when Eloise’s temperature rose to 41 degrees. She suffered a seizure but was not transferred to the paediatric intensive care unit until 8pm on Thursday December 14. She passed away three days later.
Recording a narrative verdict and summing up evidence from expert witness Dr Nelly Ninis, a consultant in paediatrics at St Mary’s Hospital, London, Coroner David Hinchliff said: “Dr Ninis stated that had Eloise Dalton been recognised as being at risk from December 11 and put straight on antibiotics from then, she believed she would have survived intact.”
A report by Dr Dominic Bell, a consultant in critical care at LGI, criticised the hospital’s failure to act on Miss Dalton’s concerns and recommended 22 changes to paediatric care at the Trust, all of which have since been implemented.
Dr Yvette Oade, chief medical officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, said: “I would like to extend our sincere sympathy to the family of Eloise and to apologise for the failings in her care, which we fully acknowledge and have taken detailed steps to address.
“After Eloise’s tragic death in 2009 a full, thorough and open investigation was carried out by a senior clinician at the trust. This made a series of recommendations for improving the care we provide, and the coroner heard in detail about these and was satisfied that they have been fully implemented.
“It is important to stress that in addition to making changes to our clinical practices, the way the trust is organised has been significantly changed since the time of Eloise’s death, with a much greater input from senior clinicians to the care of all patients in the children’s wards.”
Five years on, Eloise’s mum Abby Dalton said that the apology was “Far too little, too late.”
She said: “I believe what happened to Eloise serves as a stark warning to be aware that the doctors don’t always know best and just as I did parents really have to trust their instincts when it comes to their child. It’s not always about the parents acting quickly although this is obviously critical, the doctors have to act too. I did and I pushed, pushed, and begged to get help and they rejected us.”
Miss Dalton, who has since moved from Morley to Guiseley, said the implemented changes meant that her daughter’s death was not in vain.
She said: “Leeds General Infirmary cost Eloise her life and I can never forgive them for that, but they have made changes. The changes should be attributed to Eloise, because she paid the highest price imaginable.”