Ashtons Legal clients report Luton hospital to GMC after death of daughter

  • Posted

Posted 17/03/2015

Carole Watts 1410862545_CaroleWattsCPX.jpg

The parents of a Luton girl who died in hospital of septicaemia have reported the hospital to the General Medical Council. In November 2013 Claire Allnutt was admitted to the Luton and Dunstable Hospital and diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis. During January 2014 plans were being made for her to return home but on 23rd she fell ill with a fever. 

She was prescribed antibiotics but these were the same as antibiotics she had been prescribed previously. The investigation by the hospital found that the rationale for restarting the same antibiotics was unclear and as she had been on it before this should have triggered a different choice of antibiotic. Notes made the following day by the microbiologist suggest that the PICC line (a catheter which was inserted to administer antibiotics) was infected and should be removed. But the line remained in place.

Over the next few days five doctors were involved in Claire’s treatment. There was further discussion about removing the line but nobody took responsibility for doing so. On the night of 26 January Clare’s fever rose to almost 40 degrees. The next day Claire was asked for her agreement to remove the line. Claire had undergone a tracheostomy and couldn’t speak. In addition she had learning difficulties and a needle phobia. She agreed that the line could be removed but wanted it re-inserted in theatre. So until this could be done it was decided to leave the infected line in place.

The next morning Claire fell ill again during a visit by her partner, Dave Stickley. He alerted the nurse who called the crash team. She was resuscitated but then stopped breathing. Claire died the next day from cardiac arrest.

The letter to the GMC was written on behalf of Claire’s parents, Richard and Ann Allnutt, by their lawyer Carole Watts, a medical negligence specialist with Ashtons Legal. Ms Watts includes in her grounds for complaint the lack of urgency in removing the PICC line and the failure of monitoring, observation and documentation of Claire’s deteriorating condition. The failure to remove the PICC line was brought up by the coroner at the inquest into Claire’s death. The hospital was using an electronic reporting system called National Early Warning Score (NEWS). The system showed that Claire’s condition was deteriorating but nobody appears to have acted on it.

‘We made an application for more detail under the Freedom of Information Act’ Carole Watts explains ‘and this seems to show that staff may have had only 20 minutes training on the electronic system before being expected to use it. On the face of it this seems to be a very short period of training especially as the electronic warning system deals with life and death situations. It is of great concern to Claire’s parents that the staff using the electronic system may not have been adequately trained to use it.”

Claire’s parents are devastated by the loss of their daughter and it is important for them to know that lessons have been learnt from their tragic loss. The family have many questions about the circumstances of Claire’s death and why no action was taken to remove the PICC line. It is hoped that the GMC complaint will ensure that the actions of the doctors around the time of Claire’s death are fully investigated and that the family are given the answers that they need. Claire’s parents are determined to fight for justice for Claire and a civil claim is being pursued against the hospital.


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