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Royal London Hospital failled to spot youngster's fatal heart defects, inquest hears

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:37 05 October 2010

DOCTORS at the Royal London Hospital failed to diagnose a youngster s rare heart condition which eventually killed him, an inquest heard. Nine-year-old Shakil Arjan who died in September last year after having a cardiac arrest had been admitted to the h

DOCTORS at the Royal London Hospital failed to diagnose a youngster's rare heart condition which eventually killed him, an inquest heard.

Nine-year-old Shakil Arjan who died in September last year after having a cardiac arrest had been admitted to the hospital in Whitechapel seven months before, when a junior doctor failed to spot he had problems with his heart.

Poplar Coroner's Court heard that the youngster who lived in Rounton Road in Bow had been taken to A&E in February last year after he collapsed and hit his head in the school playground.

He was admitted to the hospital and was given an ECG heart scan.

Paediatric junior doctor, Benjamin Bloom, told the inquest that after examining Shakil he had written to his GP saying he though the youngster could be suffering from "cardiac abnormalities".

But the ECG revealed there was nothing wrong and Shakil was discharged.

And on September 19 the youngster died after having a cardiac arrest caused by a heart condition known as Long QT Syndrome which relates to an abnormal heart rhythm.

Dr Bloom said that when he studied the scan again after Shakil's death, he noticed that the figure relating to the youngster's heart rhythm was abnormally high which indicated he was already suffering from the rare condition.

He said: "I can't explain why I missed that. I have a system I follow when looking at an ECG but despite that I didn't see the number which was abnormal.

"If I had seen it, I would have discussed it with a paediatrician. Shakil would have still gone home but would have had a follow-up with a cardiologist."

Dr Ian Morrison, a paediatric A&E consultant at the Royal London told the inquest: "We have recognised what we missed and we need to put a very strong and robust system in place to prevent this in the future."

And turning to Shakil's mum Rina Begum who was in the court, he added: "We would like to say how sorry we are."

Coroner Dr Andrew Reid recorded a narrative verdict and concluded that Shakil had died of natural causes.

Dr Morrison confirmed the trust had made three recommendations following the review which included upgrading its ECG machines, ensuring the scans are double-checked by a consultant and providing guidelines to junior doctors and senior staff to help them correctly interpret children's heart rates.


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