Thursday 17 January 2019

Toddler 'would still be alive today' if results of his brain scan hadn't been delayed, inquest hears

Cameron Tindale, who died unexpectedly in May last year
Cameron Tindale, who died unexpectedly in May last year

Angela Rainey

A letter containing the delayed results of a brain scan carried out on an ill toddler only arrived on the day he was buried, an inquest heard.

Little Cameron Tindale passed away in May 2016. His family say he may still be alive had there not been a 32-day delay in sending the results.

Cameron was described as the "happiest little fellow" by his grandfather, UUP politician Doug Beattie.

Yesterday a coroner ruled that the 15-month-old died from sudden unexpected death in infancy.

At the inquest in Belfast, coroner Paddy McGurgan called for swifter updating of medical records following the tragic case.

The hearing was told of a 16-day delay in updating Cameron's computerised medical records at Craigavon Area Hospital.

A further delay of 32 days in sending the results of a brain scan to his parents Leigh (28) and Mark (27) was "unacceptable" and had "presented a missed opportunity" for them to seek a second opinion given the "significant family history of epilepsy", the inquest heard.

He added that a results letter arriving the day of Cameron's funeral "was an unfortunate coincidence", as "the hospital did not realise he had passed away" days before on May 4.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Beattie said the delay in sending the scan results was "an opportunity lost", adding: "We feel he would still be alive."

Belfast Coroner's Court heard how Cameron was rushed to hospital by paramedics on March 15 last year, after suffering a 50-minute seizure.

Also symptomatic of a viral infection and high temperature, medical experts explained that convulsions in babies aged under one year did not necessarily indicate epilepsy.

Medical staff documented that, on admission, Cameron had red ears and a sore throat, indicating an upper respiratory tract infection. However, his temperature was "normal".

He then suffered another seizure during his two-day stay, followed by a spike in his temperature, leading paediatrician Dr Sylvia Perrot to diagnose "complex febrile seizure". She concluded that it had been caused by a high fever and had ordered an urgent electroencephalogram (EEG) to glean more information. An investigation conducted after his death found that the doctors involved in his care had ordered a follow-up EEG and had made an "appropriate diagnosis".

During an opportunity to ask paediatricians Dr Sam Thompson and Dr Perrot questions, Mrs Tindale queried why her son had not been offered anti-epileptic medication.

She said her other son had automatically been offered it once, despite presenting with the same symptoms.

She said she would have invested in breathing monitors and specialised mattresses that would indicate fits, but both doctors said they would not routinely recommend such devices.

Her point was supported by her father, Doug, who added that the hearing had reignited the trauma, particularly for Leigh and Mark, who were visibly distressed.

He said: "There is a tragic sense of sadness we still feel at the loss of Cameron and today reminded us of that traumatic and horrible day.

"Had Leigh received the information earlier she would have sought a second opinion from a specialist. It was an opportunity lost and that is very difficult to deal with because Cameron would still be here with us. We feel he would still be alive.

"If anything comes out of this, it is that lessons have been learned. We are not the first to lose a child this way and we won't be the last, but at least steps are being taken to prevent it by ensuring notes are uploaded and parents are informed quickly."

Since Cameron's death Craigavon Hospital has instigated a three-day turnaround for urgent results via letter or phone call and a target of 14 days for routine results.

Mr Beattie said his issue was with the admin system, not the doctors. He also commended the police officers who attended Cameron's death at his home in Marlborough Park, Lurgan.

He paid tribute to Cameron as the "happiest little fellow" who loved Iggle Piggle from BBC children's programme In the Night Garden, which he watched transfixed each night before bedtime.

He said: "Cameron always had a smile on his face, he was typical for his age, boisterous and very inquisitive. He was into everything.

"He loved his food - he was always eating and he would have eaten anything too.

"Cameron was the youngest of three boys - he had his own special place within the family with his happy personality and his uniqueness.

"Although he was so young you could see he was formulating his own little personality.

"He was incredibly cuddly and was the loveliest little thing. I can't remember ever seeing him without a smile on his face. His personality filled the room."

The Southern Health Trust was contacted last night but declined to comment further.

Belfast Telegraph

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