Health chiefs apologise over missed brain tumour in child (5)

A mother has received an apology from NHS Forth Valley after a paediatrician failed to spot her five-year-old child's brain tumour at an earlier stage.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 22nd December 2016, 2:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:12 pm

Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) Jim Martin upheld a complaint from the mum about the treatment her child received from the health board.

In his investigation report, Mr Martin said he was “particularly concerned” about the paediatrician’s failure to act earlier given the youngster’s symptoms.

He said these failures led to a significant “personal injustice” to the child and the unreasonable delay meant an opportunity to completely remove the tumour was missed.

The mother, who is not named in the report, had complained the board failed to provide a reasonable standard of medical care and treatment for her son between January and August 2014, causing him to suffer for longer than necessary.

Her child was referred to a paediatrician at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in January 2014 and between then and July the same doctor saw the youngster on three occasions.

In August 2014 the child, referred to as Child A in the report, collapsed at home and was admitted to the hospital as an emergency where they were diagnosed with a brain tumour.

A “lengthy and difficult” surgery took place but it was impossible to remove the tumour completely.

The mum believed it should have been detected much earlier and her child suffered unnecessarily.

The investigation took evidence from paediatric specialists who concluded the youngster should have been referred for a brain scan at an earlier stage and it was likely an earlier diagnosis “would have meant a smaller tumour and a shorter, less challenging operation”.

Mr Martin concluded: “ My view is that these failures led to a significant personal injustice to Child A.

“The unreasonable delay meant that an opportunity to completely remove the tumour was missed, and in this respect I note that Child A required additional treatment (chemotherapy) with significant risks and was left with neurological defects. In addition, Child A’s collapse was very traumatic for them and their family.”

He recommended that Forth Valley NHS Board apologise to the family involved and ensures all relevant staff are aware of guidelines relating to the diagnosis of brain tumours in children and young people.

The report noted the paediatrician no longer works for the health board

In a statement, NHS Forth Valley said: “ We recognise that aspects of the care we provided fell below our usual high standards and we have met with the family to offer them our sincere apologies.

“A number of actions have also been taken to address the issues highlighted in the report. This includes arranging additional training for paediatric staff to improve the diagnosis of children and young people with brain tumours.”