A TEENAGER who died from swelling of the brain was “seriously failed” by medics at Basildon Hospital, an inquest has found.
Amie Miller, 15, from Stanford-le-Hope, was let down by doctors and nurses at the hospital, who had failed to carry out basic checks, to have communicated properly with each other and had administered inappropriate treatment.
A jury returned a narrative verdict at Chelmsford Coroner’s Court yesterday after a three-day inquest into Amie’s death at the hospital, on November 19, 2008.
Amie, a pupil at Grays Convent School, was taken to the hospital on November 16 after vomiting and fitting, having been suffering from a headache for seven days. At A&E she was sedated, put on ventilation and given a CT scan.
The first scan showed nothing abnormal, but another scan, two days later, showed a mass of fluid on the brain.
Amie died of encephalitis, a swelling on the brain.
Throughout the inquest, lawyers acting on behalf of Amie’s family claimed doctors failed to investigate properly why Amie’s brain was swollen and that basic neurological tests, such as checking she could open her eyes and looking at her pupil size, would have shown her deteriorating condition.
A nurse’s evidence, told to the jury, also revealed Amie’s condition could have been “masked” after she was sedated with Propofol, a drug instrumental in the death of Michael Jackson.
The drug is not recommended for children, but doctors chose to use it because Amie was of adult size, it was a small dose, and it gave a reliable wake-up time.
In a written statement, nurse Leonthy Hall said: “On reflection, Amie’s neurological status may have been masked by the use of Propofol.
“But it is possible her deterioration could have been seen, had neurological observation been done.”
The inquest also heard Amie had gone from releasing 50ml of urine an hour to 200ml an hour on November 17. Overnight, the amount of urine being released had increased further to 600ml an hour.
Amie’s family’s solicitor, Vikram Sachdeua, said the increase in urine “would have been enough to raise alarm bells” that her brain wasn’t working correctly.
In her summary of the evidence, Michelle Brown, the Assistant Coroner for Essex, said it had been “confusing” as to who had cared for Amie.
She said it was also unclear what systems were in place for recognising the type of treatment Amie needed, how observations were recorded and how things were communicated at the hospital in this case.
Speaking after the inquest, Basildon Hospital apologised “for failings in the care” provided to Amie.
Basildon and Thurrock Hos-pital Trust claimed changes to the way adults and children with neurological illness are treated have been made.
A statement said: “Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like to send its condolences to the family of Amie Miller at this difficult time.
“The trust would also like to apologise for failings in the care provided to Amie when she was treated here, five years ago.
“A number of changes have since been introduced in the treatment of children and adults with neurological illness, including the introduction of more regular observations.
“Clare Panniker, chief executive of the trust, has offered to meet Amie’s family and this invitation remains open.”