Doctors 'need training on child emergencies'
An investigation of medical negligence claims involving children, two of whom died, has recommended better training for doctors in the handling of emergency cases.
The 18 cases relating to children under 17 years of age, which were processed and closed over the course of a year, included a five-month-old boy who had a killer form of meningitis.
However, it was mistaken for a viral infection and he was sent home - by the time the child was brought back to doctors it was too late.
The second death was of an 18-month-old baby, born prematurely at 26 weeks, who was brought to the hospital emergency department with respiratory symptoms, the review by the State Claims Agency revealed.
The child was diagnosed with bronchiolitis. However, the child's condition deteriorated and had to be placed in intensive care.
Tragically, during his stay one of the tubes became blocked and dislodged and he suffered a cardiac arrest. He died two weeks later.
Cases where the child was injured but survived included seven in orthopaedics involving children from age nine to 16 years, five of whom were boys.
Two claims involved fractures due to falls, one from a bouncy castle and the other a trampoline.
A delayed diagnosis of slipped femoral epiphysis, where the hip joint is separated from the thigh bone, led to the child suffering chronic pain, restricted movement and likely to need more surgery.
A systems error led to a delayed diagnosis of developmental dysplasia, where the "ball and socket" joint in the hip does not properly form, in an infant with a known family history of the condition.
The analysis, carried out by clinical risk adviser Deirdre Walsh and head of clinical risk Dr Dubhfeasa Slattery, said there needs to be specific training and education for health staff in the diagnosis and management of emergencies involving children.
There is also a need for better training in child orthopaedic conditions, including X-ray findings.
The review also highlighted the need for junior doctors to seek urgent referral of a case to a senior colleagues for a diagnosis and management plan in some child cases.