Hospital Did Not Screen Toddler For Condition Despite Paramedics’ Concerns
A couple are campaigning to raise awareness of the signs of sepsis after their two-year-old son died of the condition after doctors believed his meningitis was a viral infection.
Arlo Bennett was taken to A&E at Birmingham’s Heartlands Hospital after his mum Leanne Amyes found he had been sick, suffered a seizure and had stopped breathing. The paramedics who assessed Arlo identified red flags of possible sepsis and pre-alerted the hospital.
Upon his arrival and after an initial examination, medics did not believe Arlo had sepsis and therefore they did not screen him for the condition or give him antibiotics.
An official hospital investigation report into Arlo’s death said his symptoms, including a fever and a high heart rate, met the criteria to be screened for sepsis and paramedics had flagged they were concerned he had the condition which sees the body attack itself in response to an infection.
Nine hours after his admission Arlo was diagnosed with meningitis and given intravenous antibiotics. He died later that day.
Following his death Leanne, 28, and partner Finton Bennett, 26, of Solihull, instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help investigate the standard of care provided to Arlo and secure answers.
The couple have now joined their legal team at Irwin Mitchell in using World Sepsis Day on 13 September to call for lessons to be learned.
It comes after a serious incident report by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust found the root cause of Arlo’s death was a “delay in recognition and treatment of sepsis” caused by meningitis. It added had the possibility of meningitis or sepsis been considered earlier and antibiotics given, “the outcome may have been different.”
Expert Opinion“Sadly through our work we often see the devastating consequences that families can be left to face because of sepsis. Awareness of the signs of sepsis and early detection are key to beating it.
“While the Hospital Trust’s own report has identified concerns in respect of Arlo’s care we welcome the recommendations it has included. Nothing can make up for Arlo’s death but it’s vital that these recommendations are upheld at all times so others don’t have to suffer the heartbreak that Leanne and her family have.” Laura Ellacott - Associate Solicitor
Arlo arrived at Heartlands Hospital at around 1am on February, 2019. After an initial assessment doctors believed he was displaying signs of an early viral upper respiratory tract infection. Despite concerns raised by the paramedics and Arlo meeting the criteria, the sepsis screening tool was not used.
Throughout the night and early morning, nine observations and assessments were carried out on Arlo, the serious incident report found. During this time Arlo was hot to the touch and very unsettled. At about 9.50am on 1 February Leanne noticed a purple rash on Arlo’s skin.
A presumptive diagnosis of meningitis was made and Arlo started receiving intravenous antibiotics at around 10am. Doctors discussed moving Arlo to a specialist children’s hospital. However, at around 1.30pm he suffered a cardiac arrest and died 30 minutes later.
The investigation report found that Arlo was not placed on a ‘sepsis pathway’ which would see patients undergo tests to confirm or rule out if they had the condition. Placing Arlo on a sepsis pathway would have resulted in specific documentation about whether he had the condition. If medics were still unsure further tests for sepsis would have been carried out an hour later, the report said.
The report made several recommendations including all medical and nursing staff be aware of the sepsis pathway screening tool and a consultant should lead assessments of patients who are admitted with a fever. The quality of medical notes should be reviewed and improved where necessary as a priority.
Leanne, who has another son, Alfie, aged six, with Finton said: “Arlo was such a happy boy who was always smiling and it remains incredibly hard to talk about what happened.
“I have lost my beautiful son and Alfie his little play mate. It’s still difficult that we do not understand why Arlo was not screened and treated for sepsis given how serious it is.
“Although he was very poorly it’s hard not to think that he would still be with us and of how he would be growing and developing if the seriousness of his condition had been recognised and he had received treatment sooner.
“Before this I hadn’t really heard of sepsis but it’s now something that we will never forget.
“The pain and grief has been unbearable and I don’t know whether our family will ever come to terms with it.
“While I know nothing will change what has happened, I just hope that by speaking out about Arlo’s death it makes people aware of how dangerous sepsis is and the need to be aware and recognise signs of the condition.
“I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone.”
Find out more about our expertise in supporting families affected by sepsis at our medical negligence section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.