16-year-old schoolgirl died hours after visiting GP after being sent home with ‘paracetamol’ by doctor
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A schoolgirl died hours after visiting her GP who told her to take paracetamol, an inquest heard this week.
The Year 11 student, who was described as an ‘incredible student with the world at her feet’ and ‘wise beyond her years’ visited her local surgery with a persistent headache on 28 March and again two days later.
On the first day, she was found to have had an abnormal heart rate of 139 beats per minute, but this was put down to her worries about upcoming exams and a cold she had the previous week which the GP thought had caused her sinuses to become inflamed, the hearing was told.
Despite telling her GP about having a stiff neck and a droopy eye on her second visit two days after the first, both of which are potential symptoms of meningitis, she was told to take painkillers and a nasal spray for a suspected cold.
The GP who examined Isabel during the second visit looked specifically for signs of meningitis, the inquest heard, but the teen’s temperature, pulse and oxygen levels all came back as normal and she had no sensitivity to light.
But Isabel’s temperature continued to soar that afternoon and her mother Geraldine was told to drive her to hospital.
Within five minutes of arriving at the Royal Blackburn Hospital and despite doctors’ efforts to save her, Isabel’s organs began to shut down and she had two cardiac arrests.
Isabel died just after midnight, on 31 March and during the hearing this week, a critical care consultant said he had ‘never seen anyone deteriorate so quickly’.
Dr Richard Benson told the hearing: “It was a really unusual case.
“I have never seen anyone deteriorate so quickly."
Isabel had streptococcal meningitis, which is what caused her death. It is inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms can develop quickly and can include a high temperature over 37.5°c, a headache, stiff neck, dislike bright lights, drowsiness or unresponsiveness, a blotchy rash that doesn’t fade when glass is rolled over it and vomiting.
Streptococcal meningitis is caused by bacteria and requires urgent treatment with antibiotics. Of those who survive, one in three suffer complications such as brain damage and hearing loss. There are vaccines against certain strains of bacteria that cause meningitis, such as tuberculosis.
Isabel’s family had concerns over why the GP surgery failed to diagnose her with meningitis.
After Isabel’s death, her friends raised over £2,000 for the UK Sepsis Trust.
She was described on the fundraising page as ‘an extremely popular and well-liked pupil’ who would be ‘remembered by all who met her as a lovely, caring young person’.
Her loved ones added: “Isabel was a very kind and gentle soul and will be very sadly missed by all her teachers and fellow pupils.”
You can donate to the fundraising page here.