Published on 20 Oct 2015

How neglect by an NHS hospital contributed to a teenager’s death

Karlysle Bryan was only 14 when he died last October from peritonitis – a burst appendix. When we went to see his family, their grief was still so unutterably raw.

Karlysle’s mother Lyndsey McKay said not a minute goes by where she doesn’t wish he was with her. Today the Waltham Forest coroner, Nadia Persaud, said Karlysle’s death was contributed to by neglect. Mrs Persaud said there was a gross failure to provide basic medical attention.

She said, had a full detailed assessment and observations been carried out, on balance of probability, he would have been referred to the surgical team before his appendix burst, and he would have survived.

After four days of vomiting and on the urgent advice of their GP, Karlysle’s father took him to Whipps Cross hospital in east London. It is part of Bart’s NHS Trust.

What happened in the next few hours can be best summed up as a long list of failings. A failure to properly record basic observations – heart rate, blood pressure and temperature. And to repeat them. There was a failure to further test an abnormal urine sample. And a failure to react to red flags – green vomit and soiling

The staff nurse wrote it all on a single sheet paper that has since disappeared. Notes couldn’t be found in the computer system. It wasn’t even clear if a reading of 131 was heart rate or blood pressure Either way they were warning signs.

The locum doctor did not order the observations to be retaken, she did not direct the nursing staff to carry out any further observations.

Karlysle was sent home with rehydration fluid. He collapsed in the early hours of the following morning. He was pronounced dead shortly after 9am on 21 October.

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His mother told me that right up until the end, there in the hospital, she believed it would be all right. Now she says: “Even today I wish I had just grabbed him and picked him up and cuddled him while he was still with us. When I saw him lying there … If I could have just changed places with him.”

Today in court, Whipps Cross interim medical director turned to the family – 364 days after Karlysle died – and apologised for all the pain, hurt and suffering. The hospital later said they had made changes to ensure patients are discharged safely.

This is the second inquest in five days where a young person has died and the finding has been “contributed to by neglect”.

On Friday, it was into the death of Connor Sparrowhawk, an 18-year-old with autism and epilepsy. He drowned in the bath at an NHS short-term assessment centre. His observations had been cut from 10 minutes to one hour.

In both cases the NHS took too long to apologise. In both cases the families had to fight for information, there was a failure to communicate, there was a patent lack of compassion.

This follows the government’s commitment – post the Mid-Staffordshire hospital scandal – to be open and transparent.

They introduced a duty of candour. Over the past five days none of this has been evident.

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7 reader comments

  1. Diane Raina says:

    October 10th 2014 i took my son to our local hospital and he was diagnosed with gastroenteritis and sent home, on the 12th october he was readmitted and i was told he was seriously ill his appendix had burst, he was transferred to the manchester chldrens hospital on the 13th and they could not tell me if he would survive. we were so very lucky thanks to the skills of the surgeons, my son survived, we spent 4 weeks in hospital then we were home for 4 weeks when he started to be unwell again. the local hospital sent us home saying he had trapped wind!! later that evening he was readmitted because he was vomiting green stuff. his bowl had twisted a few times and he was readmitted to manchester for a further 10 days. I dont really know what to say only my heart breaks for Karlysle’s family. for a few days I thought I would lose my son, he was 14 years old, I am so lucky he is coming up to his 16th birthday.

  2. Rob McLean says:

    Sorry but this is tabloid journalism at its worst!
    Are we to assume that all the staff at our UNDER RESOURCED hospitals are lazy uncaring and cant be bothered?
    That is the tone of your report.
    When will you start asking questions about N.H.S UNDER FUNDING?
    The government will not help, the hospitals are terrified of more cuts.
    Speak to someone from the National Health Party.
    Stop the knee jerk reaction!
    I expected better reporting from Channel 4 news.

  3. Mr A Randall says:

    This very same thing could of happened to me if my wife hadn’t forced me to go back and see my GP. After going to my GP and being told I had IBS I went home for 2 weeks I was in agony when I went back to see a different Gp I was told I had appendicitis and after going to hospital and being left without pain relief for 3 hours or seeing anyone at all I was rushed into theatre after which I was informed that had I waited a further 24 hours I would not be alive now. As of yet I still have not received a single apology from the GP or the surgery nor do I anymore. This is absolutely disgusting and my thoughts and prayers go out to this family at this time.

  4. Leonard Persaud says:

    My heart bleeds for the family. Mistakes are made by those who do acts. Those who do nothing make no mistakes!!!. I know that the NHS will make adjustments to their system to amend mistakes made here. This young man may have given his life for the better of us all.

  5. Gary says:

    When will one of the spineless weaklings in Government take proper charge of the NHS? The highest priority within the NHS now is box-ticking and neck-saving. Patient welfare doesn’t even factor into the equation any more.

  6. Nadine curran says:

    Some NHS treat people as a number too much in this day and age. Days have gone where all had compassion and cared for their line of work! Agency staff work hard but do not have the same degree as the Matron did…. Things did not happen as they happen now, too many things go un noticed, too many things get swept under the carpet, too many angels are dying at the hands of lack of compassion and care!! Its wrong!!

  7. Shanita says:

    Too many chiefs and not enough Indians. That’s the problem. I visited Manchester infirmary recently and was surprised to see two nurses running a extremely busy geriatric ward. There were over 18 patients between them. Mistakes will be made because of all the continuous cuts the government keeps making. The staff are over worked and under paid. They will be under even more pressure now.

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