A girl dying from an internal infection was treated by a string of doctors who each had only a few days’ experience.
Sian Jones, 15, of Stirchley, died in agonising pain a week after being admitted to Heartlands Hospital in August 2007. Despite removing her appendix she had serious pains and a swollen abdomen as peritonitis – a serious infection – spread through internal organs.
Dr Dina Harji was the third of three junior doctors entrusted with Miss Jones’s care. All had been working as qualified doctors in the hospital for less than two weeks.
Despite being told by another junior doctor that Sian was very ill when she started a 12-hour shift at the hospital, it took her more than five hours to see her, at which point she informed her direct supervisor that she was seriously ill.
Speaking at an inquest in Sutton Coldfield, she said: “My senior was attending at a case in accident and emergency. I was aware there was an infective process going on with the patient but what it was I don’t know.”
Dr Harji said she was attending to other patients who were in unstable conditions before seeing Sian, who she had been told was stable. But she said that now, with nearly two years of experience, she would have gone to examine Sian much more quickly. The system she worked in was not unusual in the NHS.
Dr Paul Carter, a senior house officer at the hospital at the time, also treated Sian after Dr Harji said she needed further assessment. When questioned by coroner Aidan Cotter, he also said that, because he had a number of patients to see, Miss Jones’s case had needed to wait. Mr Cotter said: “It seems to me that if you’re taken very ill then you have to be lucky that no one else is sicker than you at that time, because it seems like that’s what happened to Sian.”
The inquest continues.