Medical Negligence Lawyers Secure Settlement For Crawley Couple
Grieving parents are warning of the dangers of sepsis following the death of their two-month-old girl after medics failed to perform a test to diagnose her narrowed intestine.
Nailah Ally, from Crawley, West Sussex, was diagnosed with necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) - a serious illness which sees the gut become inflamed and start to die – shortly after her birth in October 2019. She developed feeding issues, a swollen stomach and had to be fed via a tube. The condition can also lead to a perforated bowel.
Nailah was also diagnosed with a hole in heart during mum’s Laila Tobota’s pregnancy. The baby was treated for NEC and suspected sepsis as well as successfully undergoing cardiac surgery at a specialist heart hospital before being transferred to East Surrey Hospital to monitor and establish her feeding.
Hospital send handover regarding baby's condition
The hospital sent a handover note to doctors at East Surrey saying that if Nailah’s swollen stomach persisted she may require a barium enema - a test that helps to highlight the large bowel so it can be clearly seen on an X-ray – to consider the possibility that her intestine could have narrowed because of damage caused by NEC.
Shortly after being admitted to East Surrey Hospital on 28 December, 2019, Nailah continued to have a swollen stomach and received treatment for suspected sepsis. However, doctors didn’t perform the test. A consultant believed Nailah may have an intolerance to cow’s milk so her formula was changed, an NHS investigation report seen by the family’s legal team at Irwin Mitchell found.
Nailah was sent home from East Surrey Hospital on 7 January, 2020, with an appointment to attend for a follow up appointment three days later. During her visit on 10 January concerns were raised about the girl’s condition but she was allowed home following a review by a doctor before blood test results were analysed by a consultant. When she returned the following day for follow up tests, she went into septic shock.
Baby Nailah diagnosed with sepsis
Nailah was diagnosed with sepsis, where the body attacks itself in response to an infection. An X-ray showed a suspected perforated bowel. Nailah’s condition continued to deteriorate. She was transferred to a specialist children’s hospital for surgery. However, she died on 13 January, 2020, a day before she would have turned three-months-old.
A post-mortem examination found she died from multiple organ failure caused by NEC and a narrowing of the intestine.
Crawley couple ask medical negligence lawyers to investigate daughter's care
Following Nailah’s death, Laila, aged 26, and partner Emmanuel Ally, instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care under Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs East Surrey Hospital.
Laila who works as a HR manager, and Emmanuel, who works as a fire damper engineer, have now joined their legal team in calling for lessons to be learned. It comes after a root cause analysis investigation report by the Trust found there was a failure to perform barium enema, which in retrospect, may have found Nailah’s narrowed intestine which she suffered “due to her episode of necrotising enterocolitis”.
The failure to perform the test was down to poor documentation, poor face to face handovers between doctors and poor ownership of Nailah’s case by one named consultant, the report found.
Missed opportunity to recognise how poorly Nailah was, investigation report finds
The report also found there was a “missed opportunity” to recognise how sick Nailah was when she attended hospital on 10 January.
Communication with Nailah’s parents was poor and they didn’t feel listened to or involved in their daughter’s care, the report said.
The Trust has now paid an undisclosed settlement to Nailah’s parents to help them access the specialist support they require following her death. It did not admit liability.
Expert OpinionThe last few years and coming to terms with Nailah’s death has understandably been incredibly traumatic for Laila and Emmanuel.
“Worrying issues have been identified by the Trust, not only in the Nailah’s care but also how her parents felt their concerns weren’t listened to. While nothing can make up for their hurt and pain, we’re pleased that we’ve been able to help provide Laila and Emmanuel with answers.
“Nailah’s case not only vividly highlights the dangers of sepsis but the potential consequences of poor communication between doctors as well as between doctors and families. We welcome the Trust’s pledge to learn lessons. It’s vital that these are upheld to improve patient safety.” Emily Mansfield
Mum's pain at daughter's death as she call for lessons to be learned
Laila said: “We were overjoyed when we found out we were expecting Nailah and felt so blessed to be welcoming a child into the world.
“While it’s three years since Nailah died the hurt and pain we feel is still as raw now as it was then. She was the most adorable and beautiful child who didn’t deserve the suffering she had to go through in her short life. Nailah was an absolute fighter and so brave until the end.
“We can’t thank enough the heart surgeons for everything they did to help Nailah. We hoped that when she was transferred it would be the start of being able to bring her home to start our new life together.
“However, after Nailah was transferred we felt that some staff were dismissive of our needs and that nobody on any ward rounds or staff handovers really asked us about our child. It felt like Nailah’s feeding issues were often put down to milk intolerances rather than the focus being on her medical needs.
“We weren’t asked about why a barium enema had been advised for Nailah before it was cancelled. If we had, we could have explained. When the doctors told us it has been cancelled we took this as positive news and that Nailah was getting better.”
Laila added: “Trying to come to terms with what happened is something I don’t think we’ll both ever get over. When we lost Nailah our lives changed forever.
“All we can do now is share what happened to us to make other parents aware. By speaking out we hope lessons can be learned. We want to let others going through the same emotions as us following the loss of a baby, that it’s not their fault. They don’t have to suffer alone as help and support available.”
Nailah Ally: Background
Nailah was transferred to East Surrey Hospital’s paediatric Outward ward on 28 December, 2019, to monitor her feeding with a view to sending her home.
The following day her stomach became swollen and her feeds were reduced. In the early hours of the following morning, Nailah, who had developed a fever, started intravenous antibiotics for suspected sepsis.
On 30 December she was seen by a consultant and her feeding restarted but her formula was changed as it was believed she may have had an intolerance to cow’s milk.
The following day Nailah’s case was discussed at a wider, weekly paediatric team meeting. It was agreed that she should be booked for a barium enema. It was written in a handover sheet but not in her medical notes and not requested on a centralised computer system, the Hospital Trust’s investigation report said.
In the early hours of New Year’s Day 2020 Nailah started vomiting. As it was a bank holiday, a different consultant was on duty, and treated her for gastroenteritis, the report said.
A scheduled barium enema for Monday, 6 January, was cancelled following conversations between consultants. Nailah was sent home the following day for a planned dietician review that Friday – 10 January.
Upon her return to hospital, concerns were raised about Nailah’s condition. By the time a consultant reviewed blood tests, Nailah has been sent home following a review by a doctor.
The following morning Nailah, who had a large, swollen stomach, returned to hospital for planned repeat blood tests. However, concerns were raised about her condition which continued to deteriorate. She had developed sepsis. Nailah was placed in an induced coma and transferred to a specialist children’s hospital for surgery.
She died on 13 January.
The root cause analysis investigation report made several recommendations, including a documentation form should be completed for each patient discussed at weekly paediatric team meetings and consultants should hand over care of complex patients directly to each other and not to more junior doctors.
The report also recommended that a named consultant should be in charge of every patient on the Outward ward and they should be regularly updated regarding a child’s hospital stay as well as further staff training.