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Mum tells inquest of hospital call to say daughter had died
A mother broke down as she re-lived the late-night phone call in which she was told her previously-fit and healthy teenage daughter was dead.
Anne Garner, of All Saints Court, Ilkley, was giving evidence on the first day of the resumed inquest into the death at Bradford Royal Infirmary of her 18-year-old daughter Laura Bethany Garner – a little more than a day after she was admitted with abdominal pains.
Her death sparked a Serious Incident Report which found there were deficiencies in her care which prompted the family to take legal action against Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Mrs Garner told the hearing at Bradford Coroners’ Court how she had repeatedly asked hospital staff to be allowed to stay with her distressed daughter, but this was refused as Laura was classed as an adult.
She returned home when visiting finished after 8pm on September 23, 2009, with her husband Steve, and sent Laura a text at 11.45pm to say she loved her, but did not get a reply.
A phone call from the hospital came shortly after midnight to say Laura had died.
“I was screaming down the phone,” said Mrs Garner. “She had died on her own.”
The inquest heard doctors suspected Laura, who worked as a hairdresser at Snooti a Gouti in Burley-in-Wharfedale, could be suffering from appendicitis or a urinary tract infection, but had failed to make a diagnosis before her sudden death.
The inquest heard how twice specialist surgeon Abid Hassan Mohammed Salih had suggested she be given antibiotics, but he failed to prescribe them believing a junior doctor would do it. The inquest also heard from Dr Sarah Peacock how a crash trolley did not have pads for the defibrilator when Laura’s heart stopped shortly after being transferred from ward 20 to ward 11. A second crash trolley was found, but efforts to resuscitate her failed.
A post-mortem examination found the cause of death was septicaemia and acute pyelonephritis – a serious bacterial infection of the kidney.
Laura was previously fit and healthy and lived with her parents in Oakleigh Grove, Baildon. The Saturday night prior to her death she had enjoyed a night out with her boyfriend when she had too much to drink and fell over.
The next day and Monday she complained of lower back pain, but believed this was from the fall. But on Tuesday night she was displaying symptoms of appendicitis and went to the out-of-hours GP at Otley Hospital who transferred her to Bradford Royal Infirmary at 11.30pm.
When she was first admitted, Mr Salih recommended a series of tests and a prescription of the antibiotic Trimethoprym. When he returned for his night shift the next day, he found out the tests for appendicitis had come back negative and prescribed another antibiotic, Ciproxin, to treat any possible urinary infection.
But the court heard no-one wrote a prescription for Trimethoprym on the first night and although the Ciproxin was prescribed on the second night, it was never administered. Mr Salih said a junior doctor could have prescribed the Trimethoprym on his recommendation, as was procedure at the time, but it was not done. He said procedures at the hospital had been changed following Laura’s death.
Mr Salih described Laura as “fine” and “smiling” before being transferred to ward 11.
John Griffith, a consultant surgeon who was looking after Laura, told the court he decided to order a laparoscopy. This was carried out the afternoon before her death, but failed to indicate what was wrong.
Mr Griffith said during the evening ward round he did not formally assess Laura, but described seeing her at about 5pm when he thought she looked well. He got a call from Mr Salih at about 10.30pm to say Laura had arrested.
Mr Griffith said in 12 years as a consultant he had never seen a case progress like Laura’s. He said her body had failed to mount a response to the bacterial infection. “It was very, very unusual and very tragic for everyone involved,” he said.
The hearing continues.