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Bucks hospital culpable in asthma fatality

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A hospital has been blamed for death of a little boy with asthma.

A coroner has said that Harry Mould who was only 5 would have probably survived had he been given basic medical attention after being taken into hospital.

Harry had been admitted for several hours before he saw a doctor and his mother had to remind nurses to give him his medicine, his mother has told the inquest.

The coroner launched a scornful attack on the hospital in Milton Keynes and said that Harry probably would have lived if he had received the correct treatment at the time he was initially admitted.

The coroner went on to say that for some time before he deteriorated, Harry had not received the appropriate care or observations that he needed.

The hospital chiefs have now admitted that sub-standard care had been provided to Harry and his parents have said they have finally received answers to the questions they had been asking for almost 3 years.
Harry was diagnosed with asthma in 2008 but his mother told the hearing that he had been an otherwise healthy child.

In March 2009, she had taken him to the accident and emergency department when a cough had progressively worsened.

When he was first admitted he was being treated with nebulisers every hour, which turn the required drugs into a spray which can be inhaled more easily, and he had seemed to be improving. The next morning however, Dr Abraham Oommen prescribed the inhaler be administered every four hours instead.

Mrs Mould said that although Harry had initially seemed ok on the new regime, after an hour his breathing became laboured and he coughed so much that he was sick.

Harry’s dad, Lee, told a nurse what was happening and she promised the couple that a doctor would be called for to re-assess him. The consultant did not see Harry for another 2 hours, at which stage he was put back onto the nebulisers on an hourly basis.

Mrs Mould told the Leicester inquest that she had to regularly remind nurses to administer Harry’s medication. Every single time the medication was due, it was after the prescribed hour, she told the hearing, adding that it had annoyed her.

Harry was next seen by a doctor at 8pm, a full 5 hours since the previous assessment and at this time his parents were advised that he hadn’t improved. Shortly afterwards, Harry’s condition dramatically deteriorated. He was then transferred to the ICU in Leicester where scans showed a large swelling on his brain. The life support machine was turned off a couple of days later.

The coroner said that there had been a shameful failure to give basic medical care to Harry and a narrative verdict was recorded.

The inquest was told that Harry had passed away from a combination of a respiratory infection, asthma and oxygen deprivation to his brain.

The hospital later apologised to Harry’s parents and said that any compensation claimed in relation to the death would not be contested.

Mrs Mould said that we can only hope that nothing like this will happen to anybody else. Harry died for things to change in the hospital; I really hope that they do change.