Cancer death days after toddler sent home with laxatives

  • December 18, 2019
  • A hospital has blamed “bad luck” after Francesca, aged three, died of cancer days after being sent home with laxatives.

    Cancer missed

    She was taken to her GP in March 2017 complaining of constipation and fever. As she had recently recovered from chickenpox, it was suspected that she had a viral infection.

    On March 28 2017, after spending the day writhing on the floor of her nursery with pain in her bottom, the toddler was rushed to Princess Royal Hospital in Kent where, after waiting for four hours to be seen, an external rectal exam was carried out and she was sent home with a laxative.

    However, Francesca later suffered a heart attack at home and sadly died. It was revealed that doctors had not spotted a 5cm tumour growing in her bowel which had caused a blood clot leading to the cardiac arrest. The tumour, if caught early, has a high survival rate.

    “Bad luck” to blame for death

    Following the autopsy, the hospital released a statement saying: “What happened to Francesca was very rare. It was bad luck.” They added that Francesca’s symptoms were “consistent with constipation” and they could not identify “any deficiencies or missed opportunities in her care that would have resulted in a different outcome.”

    Doctors at the hospital have said that Francesca died of natural causes. However, her parents are seeking to appeal against this in court this month. They believe that doctors acted optimistically rather than ensuring that all crucial diagnostic tests were carried out.

    At the inquest, it was heard that an internal rectal examination was not carried out, partly because the treating paediatrician believed that another doctor had already carried out an internal examination. The court was told that Francesca wasn’t in any pain when she was assessed and it was felt that an internal examination might be too stressful for her.

    Elizabeth Wickson of Medical Accident Group said: “The failings of the hospital in this instance are unacceptable. Parents such as Francesca’s rely on doctors and nurses to provide the best care to their children in times of emergency, and such failings call for changes to be made to ensure no further families suffer in the same way.”

    If you or a family member have suffered from poor cancer treatment or late diagnosis, Medical Accident Group can help. We have a team of dedicated clinical negligence solicitors who will guide you through the process of making a claim. Call the team now on 0800 050 1668 or email us at info@medicalaccidentgroup.co.uk.

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