Wiltshire

Salisbury boy died from undiagnosed appendicitis

Appendix
Image caption Appendicitis is regarded as a medical emergency

A six-year-old boy from Salisbury died of a burst appendix after several doctors missed chances to diagnose the condition, an inquest heard.

Jesse Jones died on 4 December last year at Southampton General Hospital.

The hearing was told that in the week before his death, Jesse was seen by five doctors but the condition was not diagnosed.

Coroner Ian Singleton turned down a plea to find death by neglect and recorded a narrative verdict instead.

The neglect verdict was requested by a solicitor representing the Jones family.

The inquest, in Salisbury, heard that the first two GPs contacted by Jesse's mother, Sarah, said the youngster had a stomach bug and they recommended over-the-counter medicine and plenty of liquids.

Mrs Jones then contacted an out-of-hours service and was told by a nurse to give Jesse liquid paracetemol.

By the morning of 3 December, Mrs Jones was seriously concerned over Jesse's continuing stomach pains.

'Extensive inquiry'

She took him to see Dr Bernadette Thorne, who was so concerned that an ambulance was called and he was rushed to Salisbury District Hospital.

However, the hearing was told, at the hospital Dr William Millar-Craig diagnosed constipation and sent Jesse home with a laxative.

"There were no indicators at that time to suggest a serious illness," he told the court.

However, the next day Jesse's condition worsened and he was taken to Salisbury District Hospital by ambulance again and then transferred to an intensive care unit in Southampton.

He died that evening of a cardiac arrest, after his temperature had soared to 39C.

A post-mortem examination found that Jesse died from peritonitis caused by acute appendicitis.

Sarah Jones told the hearing: "I am left wondering whether Jesse's death could have been prevented if more medical attention could have been taken on one of the previous occasions."

Recording his verdict, Mr Singleton said two opportunities to administer treatment were lost when Jesse's initial appointment was not referred on and when insufficient fluids were given to him on his second admission to hospital.

"It is not possible to say what the outcome would have been if the fluids had been administered earlier," he added.

A spokeswoman for the NHS trust which runs Salisbury hospital said it had apologised to Jesse's family.

"Following Jesse's death, the trust carried out an extensive inquiry into the circumstances of his case.

"Recommendations were made by the inquiry team which have been acted upon," she said.

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