A coroner has blasted Luton and Dunstable hospital for failing to properly treat a ten-month-old baby who died from a rare bowel condition.
Little Leo Stacey was admitted to hospital as he was repeatedly vomiting and had become lethargic.
But an inquest this week found staff did not properly address his dehydration, despite claims they “did their best to save his life”.
The two-day hearing heard doctors failed to keep his fluid levels up and they “could have saved him” if they had spotted signs of ileocecal intussusception earlier.
The rare condition occurs when the wall of the bowel folds in on itself and disrupts the intestine, and led to Leo’s death on October 5, 2015.
Bedfordshire coroner Martin Oldham said staff at the L&D did not fully address Leo’s hydration when he had been admitted.
Addressing Ampthill Coroner’s Court, he said: “I am delivering in a short narrative verdict in the knowledge that it rarely brings satisfaction to the family.”
Referring to the team that dealt with Leo at the hospital, he said: “Sadly they did not address his hydration or solve the dehydration fully until he died.”
Leo’s parents Nathalie Aubry-Stacey, 38, and Marc Stacey, 37, from Harpenden, are now pursuing a civil case against the hospital. The couple have two other children.
French-born Mrs Aubrey-Stacey told the inquest that she believed if Leo “had received competent and timely care when he was taken to hospital then he would not have died”.
She said: “It was not taken into sufficient account that Leo had: vomited so many times prior to his admission; not opened his bowels since the day before; got so dehydrated; got so lethargic; vomited blood before before and whilst in hospital; passed blood in his poo whilst in hospital; and needed investigation by abdominal X-ray to establish the diagnosis.”
She told how she and her husband first became concerned about Leo in the evening of October 4, 2015 when he vomited and retched.
Mr Stacey took Leo to an out of hours clinic in Hemel Hempstead, where a GP diagnosed probable gastroenteritis.
He was told to spoon-feed his son and give him rehydration fluids and said he would be better in a few days.
But the next day Leo’s condition worsened and when they saw blood in his vomit.
At 5.15pm that evening, they dialled 999, and while a paramedic arrived at 6.14pm, an ambulance did not arrive until two minutes to eight.
His mother accompanied Leo to the L&D where A and E staff noticed he was lethargic, vomiting and has a distended abdomen.
A doctor ordered that he should be given an intravenous line for fluids to rehydrate him, but several attempts to insert the line into a vein failed.
His condition worsened and attempt were made to transfer him to Great Ormond Street.
He stopped breathing at 4.46am, the inquest heard.
Staff tried to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced death at 6.03am. A Priest performed the last rites.
Dr Ranjith Joseph, a locum consultant paediatrician, insisted that staff ‘did [their] best to save Leo’s life’.
Dr Jeremy Price, who conducted an autopsy at Great Ormond Street Hospital, said he found that Leo’s bowel had prolapsed.
He said Leo had suffered a viral infection and his weight had dropped 14 per cent to 9.075 kilos.
After the hearing Marc Stacey said: “We are happy a narrative verdict has been reached and mention was made that hydration was insufficient.
“The diagnosis of his condition was not made until it was too late. Had it been made earlier it probably would have saved his life.
“I blame the medical professionals in charge that day for not hydrating him.
“Leo was full of life. He was a lovely boy.”
In a statement the Luton and Dunstable hospital said: “We would like to extend our condolences again to Leo’s family, following his death in October 2015.
“We have carried out a full investigation into how Leo died and have met with his family to discuss the outcome. It is clear there were failings in his care for which we have sincerely apologised.
“There were a number of recommendations that came out of the review, all of which have been implemented, with the learning shared across the Trust. These include the introduction of new guidelines in relation to fluid administration and the management of cardiac arrest in children.”