'Poor Communication' Led To Death

Cornwall Girl Starved To Death


A report into the death of a girl who starved to death after having her milk teeth removed has said there was poor communication between agencies involved in her case.

Sophie Walker, from St Dennis, Cornwall, had a fear of dentists.
She refused to eat, sleep or drink after her milk teeth came loose, and the problem was not cured following an operation to remove them.

The 8-year-old died on December 2 2005.

A report by the Local Safeguarding Children Board said there was a "lack of clarity" in Sophie's care. It said the agencies involved in the case could have used a "higher standard" of communication.

It reported: "No clear written plan was made on discharge and there was lack of clarity about responsibility for medical review following discharge.

Sophie was admitted to hospital on November 7 2005 and underwent the operation to remove her milk teeth two days later. She was kept in and fed through a drip before being released to go home for a weekend on November 18.

She seemed to respond positively at home and after a physical and psychological assessment on November 21 she was officially discharged. Her notes were then sent to the wrong GP and she was not seen by another medical professional before she died.

At the inquest into her death last year coroner Dr Emma Carlyon recorded a narrative verdict, saying the severity of her condition was not realised and this "prevented her from receiving the medical support that could have prevented her death".

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Julie Lewis, a solicitor from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “It is a tragedy that a child should be allowed to die in these circumstances. There appear to be catalogue of failings in Sophie's care and with appropriate monitoring and review following removal of her teeth, her death should have been entirely preventable.”