Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Dying girl 'called a drama queen by medics' - inquest

Apr 21 2009 by Andy Richards, Birmingham Mail

A TEENAGE girl who died in agonising pain a week after being admitted to hospital was accused of being a “drama queen” by medical staff, an inquest was told.

Sian Jones, aged 15, was admitted to a children’s ward at Birmingham’s Heartlands Hospital with stomach pains on August 6, 2007.

The teenager, from Stirchley. died of perienteritis – a serious infection that inflames the lining of the stomach and intestines – on August 13. Her sister Sarah Jones, aged 22, claimed: “The staff told my father on August 9 that there was nothing physically wrong with her and that it was all psychological, that she was a drama queen.”

Sian’s family claimed she was in “agonising pain”, unable to walk and was being fed and wheeled around in a chair by family members.

They alleged that they were told by medical staff that the pain from the undiagnosed perienteritis was brought on by problems at home.

Sian’s father Andrew had been fighting leukaemia for 18 months when his daughter was admitted to hospital, and has since died from the illness.

The inquest heard that when Sian was admitted doctors suspected that she was suffering from appendicitis.

They removed her appendix on August 7, but her pain grew steadily worse.

She was sent for scans and given pain relief, but doctors missed a number of tell-tale signs of her deteriorating condition, the inquest was told.

They attributed the discomfort to post-operation pain and failed to connect the signs of swelling in her stomach, problems with her urine, irregular blood sample results and problems with her temperature, heart rate and blood pressure.

She was finally sent to intensive care on August 11 when her condition worsened and she died in the early hours of August 13 of multi-organ failure, which was brought on by the infection.

Sarah Jones and her aunt, Susan, gave evidence yesterday at the inquest in Sutton Coldfield, which will hear from 26 witnesses.

She said: “I was very close to my sister and it became more and more difficult to see her in the latter half of the week. She was in agonising pain and would scream and cry constantly.

“My father had spent a long time in hospital and had given lots of blood samples. He kept asking about the results.

“She was only showered once whilst she was in the ward and her sheets were not changed once. It was up to me and my dad to clean her, to brush her teeth and to feed her because she was not able to do it herself.

“She even rang me at 3am begging me to go and see her. She would just want me to stroke her hair, she was in so much pain.

“I even had to ask for a wheelchair to take her to the toilet on two occasions, because by now she could not walk or even stand up.

“On the second occasion we came out to find that the chair had gone, so I had to wheel her back in weighing scales.

“My parents had split up some time before and our father was terminally ill, but Sian and I had no problems.”

Dr Ahmad had the most contact with Sian before her death. She had been a junior doctor at the hospital for two years and had started her surgical training at Heartlands just three days before Sian was admitted.

Under questioning from coroner Aidan Cotter she said she had not been made aware of any wheelchair use or calls to relatives in the middle of the night.

She said the surgical team, including two more senior surgeons who are now both working in Australia, attributed the continuing pain to post operation pain from the appendix procedure.

She added: “With the benefit of hindsight I can see that she was getting worse, but at the time it was not so obvious.

“In hindsight all the factors were viewed independently and not together.

“The team thought there was nothing amiss surgically and had been falsely reassured by a CT (x-ray) scan and a review from a paediatric doctor.

“The emotional aspect had been raised to me by my seniors and psychological issues were raised in a conversation with her father.”

(Proceeding)

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Source: Birmingham Mail