Boy, 9, Died of Sepsis After Hospital ‘Dismissed Concerns’ About Appendix

Reported in the Times newspaper, a nine-year-old boy tragically died of sepsis just eight days after being discharged from Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran, South Wales, with a diagnosis of influenza. Despite being referred by his GP due to suspected appendicitis, he was sent home with painkillers and a coughs and colds advice sheet, an inquest has revealed.

The boy’s parents described him as “loving and inquisitive” with a “quirky sense of humour.” He loved playing with Lego and Rubik’s cubes, had a keen interest in science and coding, and aspired to become a computer programmer.

The inquest at Gwent Coroner’s Court in Newport is examining whether the appendicitis could or should have been identified earlier. In early December 2022, the boy was taken to his GP, who suspected appendicitis and advised an immediate visit to Grange Hospital. At the hospital, he was seen by a paediatric nurse practitioner who did not review the GP’s notes to avoid being influenced by the GP’s assessment. She noted that it was an exceptionally busy day and did not recall the boy or his father expressing severe concern about his pain.

A man in scrubs, assumed by the boy’s father to be a surgeon, reportedly dismissed the likelihood of an appendiceal issue without a physical examination. Another clinician diagnosed influenza and attributed the boy’s abdominal pain to “swollen glands,” leading to his discharge with painkillers.

The boy’s condition deteriorated over the following days. After a distressing wait for medical assistance via 111, his father rushed him back to Grange Hospital. He was then transferred to University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, where doctors informed his parents that he had irreversible septic shock due to a perforated appendix. He died on 14 December 2022, with the medical cause of death identified as “septic shock with multi-organ dysfunction caused by a perforated appendix.”

In a poignant statement, the boy’s parents lamented their loss: “On the day we were meant to be proudly watching our son in his school Christmas play dressed as a little reindeer, instead we watched him dying. There is no doubt that he would have grown up to do some very interesting things in his life, but we have been denied the opportunity of watching our son grow into a man and experiencing the joys of life with him.”

The inquest is expected to last five days.

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