The parents of a baby boy who died from an undetected bowel condition at Luton & Dunstable Hospital are seeking answers at an inquest to be held this week.
Ten-month-old Léo Stacey died at Luton and Dunstable Hospital on the morning of October 6, 2015, hours after he was taken by ambulance to the hospital’s A&E because he was lethargic and vomiting.
His parents, Marc Stacey and Nathalie Aubry-Stacey, of Harpenden, Hertfordshire, say they have questions about several issues including the hospital’s attempts to keep Léo hydrated, a failure to diagnose his condition and their belief that medical staff did not take their concerns seriously.
Léo’s mother Nathalie, 38, said: “I feel that my otherwise healthy son died in a few hours in hospital from something that was treatable. We knew something was very wrong but nobody took us seriously.
“They didn’t read the signs and we feel that they ignored information we gave them, and we want to know why. A 10-month old can’t talk and tell you what is wrong. It is the doctor’s duty to check every possible diagnosis. We have tried to manage as best we can but my outlook as a parent and my career have been seriously affected. Now we are having to re-live the whole thing to try to get some answers.”
They will be represented by medical negligence claims specialist Dr John White of BL Claims Solicitors at an inquest into Léo’s death, due to take place at Ampthill Coroner’s Court on Wednesday.
Dr White said: “Léo suffered from a surgical condition of the bowel which is relatively rare but entirely treatable if it is detected in time and managed properly. His parents believe that delays in his treatment and diagnosis of his condition and a failure to keep him stabilised meant that opportunities to save Léo’s life were missed.
“The grief and devastation that they continue to suffer as a result of the loss of their son has been made harder to bear by their concerns about the quality of the treatment he received. These need to be addressed fully, so that parents can feel safe in the knowledge that if their children are in need of medical attention, competent care is provided.
“It is their hope that the inquest will provide the answers to those questions and lessons will be learned to prevent other parents going through what has happened to them.”
Léo’s parents first became concerned about their son on the evening of October 4, 2015, because he had been vomiting throughout the afternoon.
Léo’s father took the baby to an out-of-hours clinic in Hemel Hempstead where a GP diagnosed probable gastroenteritis and advised that he should be spoon-fed water and given rehydration fluids, and would be better in a few days.
The next day Léo’s condition worsened and he was unable to keep fluids down. His parents called 999 at around 5.15pm after there was blood in his vomit. At 6.14pm, a paramedic attended and called for an ambulance after examining Leo. The ambulance did not arrive on the scene until 7.58pm.
After his arrival at Luton and Dunstable Hospital, Léo was seen by an A&E doctor who noticed that he was lethargic, vomiting and had a distended abdomen. The doctor ordered that an intravenous line for fluids be inserted to rehydrate him.
During the course of the night several attempts were made by the paediatric team to insert the line into a vein, but these were unsuccessful.
Léo’s condition continued to worsen and after 3am, attempts were made to transfer him for specialist care at Addenbrookes, Great Ormond Street, or Royal London Hospitals.
Leo’s condition deteriorated further and he stopped breathing at 4.46am, suffering a cardiac arrest. Staff spent more than an hour trying to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced dead at 6.03am.
A post-mortem report showed that Léo died as a result of complications from ileocecal intussusception, a condition in which the wall of the bowel folds in on itself and disrupts the intestine. If operated upon the condition can be cured, and if not treated, it is fatal.
A Serious Incident Investigation report following Léo’s death identified three main problems – inadequate administration of fluid, the fact that his surgical condition in his abdomen was only recognized late, and the hospital’s management of his cardiac arrest.
The inquest at Ampthill Coroner’s Court begins on Wednesday, March 22 and is expected to continue for two days.