Lawyers Instructed To Investigate Level Of Care Young Girl Received
A mother left devastated when doctors at a Bath hospital ‘missed an opportunity’ to spot her young daughter’s brain tumour is calling for lessons to be learned after instructing lawyers to investigate her level of care.
Aimee Wilcox, 29, from Paulton, Bristol, took her 31-month-old daughter Lara to her GP in June 2016 after she noticed she was vomiting and complaining of a sore neck.
Aimee took her daughter for further appointments both at her GP and the Royal University Hospital in Bath, as well as a visit to A&E in Bath. But it was not until Aimee took Lara to A&E in Bristol that Lara was given a CT Scan on 22 July which identified a cancerous brain tumour. After this was removed the toddler was referred to Florida for specialist proton therapy treatment funded by the Bristol Children’s Hospital.
A patient safety investigation report conducted by Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust stated that there was a “missed opportunity for a scan to have been performed urgently given the child’s preventing history and ‘red flags’ ” regarding her symptoms.
Now, after instructing specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her daughter’s care at the hands of Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust , Aimee is hoping that all NHS Trusts are provided with the report to ensure the issues they faced are not repeated in the future.
Irwin Mitchell has written to Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust informing it that it has been instructed to look into Lara’s care.
Expert Opinion“This is an extremely worrying case in which medical experts failed to spot the key ‘red flags’ for tumours in under-fives, with Lara’s condition only being identified due to the sheer determination of her parents.
“While there is nothing to suggest there is a wide reaching problem at the Trust, worryingly, despite the investigation carried out by Royal United Hospital Bath, this is not the only case of this kind that Irwin Mitchell is involved in relation to the hospital.
“The other case concerns a six month old baby whose mother took her to A&E at Bath extremely worried about her symptoms. As with Lara’s experience, no scans were carried out and the staff just advised they would try to speed up a routine scan. Shortly afterwards, the baby was diagnosed with a non-cancerous brain cyst and fluid on the brain.
“The cyst is still on her brain and the little girl is currently undergoing a series of medical appointments, including with a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist and an eye specialist.
“The little girl has mild paralysis on the right side of her body and visual problems. It is not yet clear what the future will hold in terms of her walking, talking and general development and her mum fears she may be severely disabled
“A Root Cause Analysis Investigation report also found that there was a ‘missed opportunity’ to carry out a scan leading to a delay in diagnosing the baby’s condition.
“We have serious concerns about the level or care that was provided in these two cases and are investigating if more could have been done.
“If during the course of our investigations any shortcomings are identified, it is important the NHS Trust learns lessons and puts new measures in place to ensure patients receive the best possible care as quickly as possible.” Eleri Davies - Associate Solicitor
After the initial GP appointment in June, Lara’s symptoms persisted and she was referred to the Royal University Hospital in Bath. After waiting a week, Aimee chased the hospital which arranged an appointment. Lara was seen by a paediatrician who noted she was vomiting three times a day and had neck pain. She was booked her in for a routine MRI scan.
Lara’s symptoms continued to worsen so her mum took her back to her GP and the hospital asking that the routine scan planned for the end of August be brought forward.
On 21 July Aimee attended the A&E department at Bath, worried about Lara whose neck pain was worse. She was lethargic, still vomiting and had poor co-ordination. The hospital sent Aimee home with advice to contact her GP for support and they would see if they could bring forward the MRI.
Aimee was extremely concerned about her daughter and so then took Lara to A&E at the Bristol Children’s Hospital the next day where, an immediate CT was scan ordered. It confirmed Lara had a build-up of fluid on her brain and a cancerous brain tumour.
The tumour was removed three days later.
Following her treatment for the brain tumour, Lara is now unsteady on her feet following her proton therapy in Florida and there is a 50 per cent chance she will lose her hearing in one ear.
Doctors are also closely monitoring her body’s ability to produce hormones following the amount of proton Lara’s pituitary gland received.
It is also believed Lara’s cognitive development may have been affected and her level of brain damage is currently not known. In addition, she now needs regular scans as there remains a chance that the tumour could return in the next few years.
Aimee said: “It was absolutely awful to see Lara so unwell – it was a parent’s worst nightmare. We were sure something was seriously wrong, yet it felt at times that our concerns were not taken seriously. While we were happy that an MRI scan was arranged, when her illness got worse we knew it had to happen sooner.
“We just felt we had no choice but to go elsewhere and were shocked and relieved when the Bristol Children’s Hospital identified the issue straightaway.
“It is so clear that improvements are needed in this area and we hope that by taking this step we can push the NHS to ensure that the problems faced by our little girl will not be repeated.”
Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling medical negligence cases.