An inquest has been held into the death of five year old Kelsey Smart, who died of meningitis in February last year.

Avon Coroner’s Court was told that Kelsey, who attended the Park School in Kingswood, near Bristol, was seen by two GPs less than 48 hours before she died.

After falling unwell in the night, Kelsey was taken to an out of hours GP. She was vomiting hourly, was tired and had a small pinprick rash on her abdomen. She was seen again the following morning by a GP in her local surgery.

Neither GP considered the possibility of meningitis, instead diagnosing her with viral gastroenteritis. Tragically, three hours later she started to have fits and was rushed to hospital. She died two days later of meningitis.

Despite both GPs making a misdiagnosis, coroner Maria Voisin recorded a narrative verdict, meaning Kelsey’s death cannot be attributed to a named individual(s). She said: “What cannot be said is whether earlier treatment would have resulted in a different outcome for Kelsey.

“Neither can we say exactly what would have happened if Kelsey had been admitted sooner. So based on the evidence I consider the appropriate verdict to be a narrative verdict.”

Kelsey’s mother, Hannah Smart, said the GPs had let her daughter down. In a statement read at the inquest, she said: “We had a meeting with a senior doctor who suggested that Kelsey had been let down by the doctors treating her. These feelings are echoed by myself and my entire family.”

“I am concerned that at no point did any of the Frendoc [out of hours GP service] staff or any of the staff at the GP surgery inform me about meningitis and what to look out for. I believe now that she had signs and symptoms pointing to meningitis.”

Have you suffered a similar experience?

The case of Kelsey Smart is tragic one, but sadly does happen, as medical professionals do not always diagnose meningitis in time – even if a patient is displaying the characteristic symptoms. This can lead to devastating complications and can prove fatal. If this is something that has affected you and your family, do not hesitate to get in touch with us at Glynns Solicitors to discuss what action you can take next.

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