A TODDLER died at the Alexandra Hospital after doctors failed on a number of occasions to diagnose his heart condition.
An inquest at Worcestershire Coroner’s Court heard how 14-month-old Thomas Francis Duffy, who lived in Bromsgrove, had been taken to the GP several times but the condition was not picked up.
On March 19, 2011, Thomas was struggling to breathe and his parents John and Jo Duffy took him to the Alex’s A&E.
Mr Duffy, 39, said: “On the two days leading up to Thomas’ death he was seen twice by the GP and considered a thriving child but just eight to ten hours later we had to rush him to hospital with severe breathing difficulties.”
Thomas arrived in A&E at 2.37am and was originally treated for a viral induced wheeze and then for sepsis as his condition deteriorated.
After a morning of intense treatment, the family was informed Thomas was in a stable condition but an hour or so later he suffered a cardiorespiratory arrest and died at 8.55am.
Assistant Coroner John Ellery said neglect had, in part, contributed to Thomas’ death and that if the relevant treatment had been given, including the attendance of an on-call consultant paediatrician, Thomas would not have died when he did. He said there had been a ‘gross failure’ to provide basic medical attention.
The cause of death was put down to heart failure and bronchopneumonia.
Mr and Mrs Duffy had to endure three inquests and a judicial review hearing to get the answers they were looking for. The first inquest ruled Thomas had died of natural causes but the verdict was later quashed by the courts.
The second inquest in December 2013 had to be adjourned after key evidence was not disclosed.
Kay Kelly, solicitor at Lanyon Bowdler, said they had recently settled a clinical negligence compensation case against Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust on behalf of the family. She added three years and seven months after Thomas’ death, the family were pleased with the coroner’s verdict and hoped it would help stop a similar tragedy from ever happening again.
Mr and Mrs Duffy have since gone on to have a son Luke, now two-and-a-half and Mrs Duffy is due to give birth to their third child next month.
Penny Venables, chief executive of WAHT, said they accepted the coroner’s conclusions and deeply regretted the things they had got wrong.
She added in the three-and-a-half years since Thomas’ death the Trust had made significant changes to ensure the issues highlighted would not be repeated and had offered to meet with the family to discuss them.
“The Coroner stated during the inquest that he was reassured by our actions and that lessons had been learned.”