Questions over hospital delays in lead up to Hitchin toddler’s death

THE parents of a 20-month-old girl who died from swelling of the brain have said they believed more could have been done to save her.

Jasmine Hughes died in February last year at Great Ormond Street Hospital, one month after being admitted to Lister Hospital.

The toddler’s mother Joanne, who lives in Hitchin with husband Jeff, gave evidence at the inquest into her death at St Pancras Coroner’s Court today (Thursday).

The court heard how she felt that, had there not been delays in tests and lack of communication, Jasmine may have stood a better chance of survival.

“I was concerned about the time it was taking for the diagnostic tests to be performed,” said Mrs Hughes.

“Our concern is whether she could have had an opportunity to try the treatments sooner.

“I can remember very clearly what I said to the nurse, which was I feel like I’m losing her. She would zone out so I felt like she wasn’t there, then all of a sudden she would come back into the room. She was sleeping so much more than usual. She had tremors and shakes and her not wanting to walk was so unusual.

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“She didn’t want to play. She wanted to be in bed and always wanted to be picked up. It was very different to how she would normally be. Normally she would be running round all over the place and certainly would have got full use of the play room in hospital.”

Jasmine was first taken to see her GP, who referred her to Lister Hospital on January 13 with concerns she was suffering a post viral condition.

The inquest heard that plans for Jasmine to undergo a scan were changed, and that the scan was not performed for a further week.

A statement by Mrs Hughes also said between the two hospitals, an appointment for a further scan was changed, a lumbar puncture was not performed despite being recommended, and other appointments were put back.

Great Ormond Street Hospital also failed to get in contact with results from tests. The results only emerged after Jasmine’s GP, Dr Davis, rang the hospital.

Dr Davis said in court: “I rang and spoke to a secretary to say that I was concerned it was taking a long time for this child to be seen but also because I was concerned it would get put back again.”

Jasmine was transferred to the paediatric intensive care unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital on February 11, where she remained critically ill before she died.

Consultant pathologist Dr Squire, who performed a brain autopsy, said that the cause of death was caused by swelling of the brain. This in turn, she said, was caused by Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), which often occurs following viral infection.

Carlos de Souza, a consultant paediatric neurologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital for 20 years, agreed that, because Jasmine’s condition was deteriorating, alarm bells should have rang.

“There would be an increasing urgency to get to the bottom of it,” he said.

“The need to get to the bottom of the problem is greater in my view of experience if there is continuing deterioration, than if they were stable or improving.”

Dr Cheryl Hemmingway, a consultant paediatric neurologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital, added that earlier diagnosis could have resulted in a different outcome.

“[It] may not have changed anything but would have not left everybody feeling like [it could have done],” she said.

The inquest continues.