Good Hope Hospital under the microscope after youngster's meningitis death

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An investigation is underway into the death of a young girl who was sent home with suspected meningitis by a West Midlands Hospital.

Medical Negligence

Morgan Phelan, 4, was discharged by Good Hope Hospital, Sutton Coldfield, even though she had a high temperature and was suffering from an all-over body rash. According to doctors at Harvey Ward, the children's facility which has since closed, she had no more than an infection.

Morgan, from Kingstanding, Birmingham, was first seen at the hospital's A&E just after 7pm on 17 January and was admitted 4-and-a half-hours later. At about 12.45am the following day, the youngster was diagnosed with a viral infection and discharged.

Still clearly ill on Saturday 19 January, Morgan was taken by ambulance to Birmingham Children’s Hospital. At about 5 o'clock the little girl was pronounced dead.

Morgan's mother, Gemma, said that although her daughter had an all-over body rash and was running a high temperature, physicians assured her it was just a minor infection.

Noting that the hospital closed Harvey Ward shortly after Morgan's death citing "staffing issues", Mrs Phelan feels her daughter might still be alive had the ward shut earlier.

"When I read the Harvey Ward has been closed that sent me so angry and I started shaking," Mrs Phelan said. "The hospital said it would only affect one or two children but how many has it affected?"

"Had the Harvey Ward shut before or had they not discharged her at 1am she might still be here. I believe had they given her penicillin she would be alive today."

"I have been told there will be an inquest in 6 months and we may find out more in 3 months."

Mrs Phelan said she was hurt further after she received a letter from the hospital which referred to Morgan as a male.

Good Hope Hospital offered its condolences to Morgan's family. "We take the care and safety of all of our patients very seriously and we are currently undertaking an investigation into Morgan’s sad death which will be shared with the family," the hospital's managing director, Sue Moore, said.

"Unfortunately, due to patient confidentiality, we cannot comment on any individual patient's treatment. We have arranged to meet with the family so we can discuss and address their concerns fully."

"Our decision to close Harvey ward has been taken following the advice of clinicians and is in response to ensuring safe staffing levels within specialist paediatric nursing."

Neil Fearn, Head of Medical Negligence at Simpson Millar LLP commented: "Meningitis is often difficult to distinguish from less dangerous infections and is therefore hard to diagnose. If there is a suspicion that it exists then careful steps need to be taken to confirm its presence and if it does exist to treat it. Often the condition is of rapid onset with severe damage occurring swiftly. We often have to investigate whether there is a medical negligence case in circumstance such as those described here. Cases like this can be difficult to prove so it's always advisable to speak to specialist Medical Negligence Lawyer about such matters."


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