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Three year old died following a misdiagnosis

On 5 February 2016 the Assistant Derbyshire Coroner Mr James Newman handed down a natural causes verdict confirming that in his view there had been missed opportunities to diagnose and treat complications of chicken pox that led to the development of sepsis and death of John Kirkham.

John had been suffering from chicken pox and his concerned Mother took him to Buxton Community Hospital on the morning of 15 March 2014. Nurse Luscombe, during the course of the Inquest, confirmed that she had been very concerned about John and she arranged for his transfer by ambulance to Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport.

John was first assessed on the A&E Unit and was then referred to the Paediatric Unit as a result of concerns about his condition.

Whilst on the Paediatric Unit for assessment, John was seen once by a Nurse and once by a Junior Doctor who then discharged him. The Coroner confirmed that in his view the Doctor had misdiagnosed John as having symptoms just related to chicken pox and failed to spot that a fatal sepsis/infection was developing.

The Inquest heard evidence from Mr Rothburn, a Consultant Microbiologist, that if John had been kept in Stepping Hill Hospital on the evening of 15 March 2014 and administered antibiotics his death would have been prevented.

Karen Reynolds, Partner at Freeths LLP and solicitor for John’s family, said:

“The Coroner’s careful and detailed review of this tragic death followed an inadequate review by the Stepping Hill Trust. The comprehensive analysis of the evidence heard by the Coroner and his conclusions should be carefully studied by all those concerned in the treatment of children. It is clear that Clinicians at Stepping Hill Hospital treating John totally failed to appreciate the development of the serious post chicken pox complications and misdiagnosed him. An opportunity to save his life was missed. The family hope that lessons have been learnt and that as a result further deaths will be avoided.”

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