NHS Forth Valley In Apology After Missing Brain Tumour In Five Year-Old Boy

21 December 2016, 17:24

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A health board has apologised after a paediatrician failed to diagnose a five-year-old boy with a brain tumour at an earlier stage.

Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) Jim Martin upheld a complaint from the child's mother about the treatment her son received from NHS Forth Valley.

In his investigation report, Mr Martin said he had ''considerable concerns'' about the standard of paediatric care that had been provided, which he said had led to a ''significant injustice'' to the child and his family.

The mother, who is not named in the report, had complained the board failed to provide a reasonable standard of medical care and treatment for her son between January and August 2014, causing him to suffer for longer than necessary.

The child was referred to a paediatrician at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in January 2014 with vomiting and headaches and was seen on three occasions from then until July that year.

He was not diagnosed with a brain tumour until the following month, after collapsing at home and being admitted to the hospital as an emergency.

Despite undergoing ''lengthy and difficult'' surgery, it was impossible to remove the tumour completely, the report said.

The investigation took evidence from paediatric specialists who concluded the boy, referred to as Child A in the report, should have been referred for a brain scan at an earlier stage and it was likely an earlier diagnosis ''would have meant a smaller tumour and a shorter, less challenging operation''.

Mr Martin concluded: ''My view is that these failures led to a significant personal injustice to Child A.

''The unreasonable delay meant that an opportunity to completely remove the tumour was missed, and in this respect I note that Child A required additional treatment (chemotherapy) with significant risks and was left with neurological defects. In addition, Child A's collapse was very traumatic for them and their family.''

He recommended that Forth Valley NHS Board apologises to the family involved and ensures all relevant staff are aware of guidelines relating to the diagnosis of brain tumours in children and young people.

The report noted the paediatrician is no longer an employee of the health board.

In a statement, NHS Forth Valley said: ''We recognise that aspects of the care we provided fell below our usual high standards and we have met with the family to offer them our sincere apologies.

''A number of actions have also been taken to address the issues highlighted in the report. This includes arranging additional training for paediatric staff to improve the diagnosis of children and young people with brain tumours.''