"Failed to identify my seriously ill baby"

About: Hemel Hempstead Hospital

My 4 week old was pale, lethargic, foaming at the mouth, appeared to be struggling to breathe, had a worsening cough and had not fed properly for over 8 hours. After calling 111 during the night I was given an appointment at 9am with the out of hours GP on 15th March 2014. On arrival I told the receptionists I was very worried about him and they marked me as 'urgent'. When I saw the GP, they did various checks which they told me were fine. I was surprised by this, as my instinct told me that my little one was very unwell. I was very concerned about the length of time he had gone without feeding but when I mentioned this to the GP, they said this was normal ( ). Because I stressed my concerns to the GP - and in light of the fact he had been in special care due to breathing difficulties at birth, they referred me to Watford children's emergency department, where they said that a paediatrician would check him and watch him feed. I arrived at Watford and it was clear immediately to the sister examining him that my baby was very poorly. He was immediately sent for a chest x-ray (with a nurse following with an oxygen cylinder), put on a drip because he was dehydrated and admitted with suspected bronchiolitis. He remained in the high dependency unit of the children's ward, receiving oxygen to help him breathe, for over 4 days. He became very unwell overnight on the 15th, and had to be put on a CPAP machine, to assist his breathing further. I am extremely concerned that the GP that I saw failed to recognise the signs that my baby was seriously unwell and do not wish to contemplate what might have happened had I believed that he was fine and taken him back home. I understand now that the signs that he was displaying - of chest retractions and head bobbing - indicate a baby who is struggling to breathe and I cannot understand why the GP did not recognise this. I feel very strongly that you should act on this information, as, had I not been assertive regarding my own observations and instincts, my baby would have been put at serious risk.

Story from NHS Choices

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››


Response from Hemel Hempstead Hospital

Thank you for letting us have feedback about your recent visit to Hemel Hempstead Hospital. Please accept my apologies for the delay in replying. I am very sorry to hear that your son was unwell and I hope he has now made a full recovery. From the information you have provided, I can tell that you attended the 'out of hours' GP service at Hemel Hempstead Hospital. Whilst this facility is based within our hospital, the care is provided by an organisation called Herts Urgent Care. Herts Urgent Care is not part of our organisation and provide the 'out of hours' service independently. I would encourage you to make contact with Herts Urgent Care to raise your concerns. You can email huc.feedback@nhs.net or call 01707 385 954. You will find further information, including a postal address, here: http://www.hertsurgentcare.com/feedback-complaints. Thank you again for using NHS Choices. I hope you find Herts Urgent Care are able to provide the information and support you need. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need to. My email is antony.tiernan@esth.nhs.uk or you can call 01923 436 229. Alternatively, you can tweet me: @AntonyTiernan. Antony Tiernan Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications

  • {{helpful}} of {{total()}} people think this response is helpful

Updates, changes and questions related to this story