DOCTORS failed to give a Bournemouth teenager potentially life-saving antibiotics for several hours despite suspecting she had meningitis, an inquest was told.
Connie Moore, 16, a pupil at Bournemouth School for Girls, was admitted to hospital with a number of symptoms including a headache, temperature and high blood pressure and later died.
Despite her initial examination raising meningitis as a possible cause of her symptoms, it wasn’t until four hours later that she was given antibiotics at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, the hearing heard.
The inquest into her death heard that it was impossible to know whether giving her the medication any earlier would have saved her life but Dr Chowdhury Islam told the court: “The earlier you give antibiotics the better.”
The court was told that because her condition was improving, doctors put meningitis “down the list” of possible diagnosis.
However the coroner’s court heard that, according to guidelines, if there is any suspicion of meningitis, antibiotics should be given within an hour.
The court also heard how a decision to perform a lumbar puncture to confirm meningitis hours later should not have been carried out.
It was this procedure that ultimately caused brain damage which led to her death.
Doctors decided to perform the procedure without having Connie’s full notes, the court heard, which would have suggested she was suffering from increased pressure on the brain – which means a lumbar puncture should not be performed.
They instead put too much reliance on a CT scan which didn’t show abnormalities.
Dr Charles Gordon said: “We interpreted the information we had in the wrong way.”
Fellow consultant Dr Michelle Scott said “with hindsight” she would not have agreed to a lumbar puncture.
Royal Bournemouth Hospital has since carried out a serious incident review.
Associate medical director Dr Sean Weaver told the court that any decisions made were done with the information available at the time.
The court heard it was impossible to know whether Connie would have survived had she been given the antibiotics earlier or not had the lumbar puncture.
Delivering a narrative determination, Coroner Keith Wiseman said: “A differential diagnosis of meningitis was made at a very early stage but there was a failure to give antibiotics at all for a four-hour period after admission in breach of NICE Guidelines.
“Those directed specifically at meningitis were not given for close to six hours after admission by which time Connie had very significantly deteriorated and required emergency treatment.”
After the verdict Connie’s mother Kathleen Moore said:"As a family we have been devastated by Connie’s death. We mourn her loss every day.
"This verdict supports our belief in that there was a systematic failure at Royal Bournemouth Hospital to treat Connie’s symptoms in the manner which she deserved and according to national guidelines.
“Meningitis and septicaemia are serious illnesses which require immediate medical attention. No family should have to suffer the loss of a young person to meningitis, as we have. We miss Connie every day.”
Paula Shobbrook, Director of Nursing at Royal Bournemouth Hospital, said afterwards: "We offer our sincere condolences to Connie's family at this time and we will be carefully reviewing the coroner's findings."