Clayhall mum speaks about death of her 13-month-old daughter within hours of King George Hospital discharge

PUBLISHED: 12:47 24 March 2016 | UPDATED: 12:47 24 March 2016

13-month-old Zara Alam died after being sent home from the hospital. Photo Nazia Alam

13-month-old Zara Alam died after being sent home from the hospital. Photo Nazia Alam

Nazia Alam

A hospital doctor who discharged a baby hours before she died after contracting meningitis failed to check her vital signs and consult a senior doctor.

13-month-old Zara Alam died after being sent home from the hospital. Photo Nazia Alam13-month-old Zara Alam died after being sent home from the hospital. Photo Nazia Alam

An inquest into the death of 13-month-old Zara Alam heard a coroner in giving her verdict describe the failure at King George Hospital A&E in Barley Lane, Goodmayes as a missed opportunity, contrary to guidelines.

Zara’s parents Nazia, 32, and Wajid, 41, of Clayhall Avenue, Clayhall, had driven their baby to hospital in the early hours of Friday, September 5, 2014, after she developed a high temperature.

Mrs Alam, 32, said the A&E “wasn’t busy” and a nurse categorised Zara as an “amber risk” when they arrived.

Zara was seen by Dr Oladipupo Okotore, who was working an 8pm to 8am shift ins A&E, at 7.03am.

He put Zara’s temperature down to a virus and discharged her and the family arrived home at 7.30am.

The family tried to get some sleep, but woke to find Zara unable to lift herself up and blue patches had appeared all over her body.

They dialled 999 and by 10.10am, David Shoesmith, emergency response paramedic, arrived to find Zara “turning blue”.

Zara was taken to hospital in an ambulance where she suffered a cardiac arrest.

“We weren’t told,” said nursery nurse Mrs Alam. “And I kept singing to her so she would keep strong but deep down I knew I’d lost my only baby.”

Within four hours of being discharged, Zara died from “overwhelming sepsis”.

Mrs Alam had told Walthamstow Coroner’s Court: “The doctor felt that as there was no rash and Zara’s temperature was coming down after giving her ibuprofen on arrival, there was little or no risk. He was wrong.

“I was made to feel I was making a fuss. I think the hospital should have carried out some tests or at least kept Zara in for observation for a while.”

Dr Okotore said he did exam Zara properly and assumed vital signs were good after only being given her temperature reading by nurses.

Despite the failure to carry out tests and consult a senior doctor, the coroner added it was not possible to know if doing so would have saved Zara’s life.

The cause of death was given as meningococcal septicaemia.

Chief Executive Matthew Hopkins said: “This must have been a devastating time for Zara’s family and my thoughts are with them.

“I would like to apologise that we did not provide Zara with the levels of care I would have expected.”

He added that staff had been through training during the past year and a “dedicated sepsis nurse lead” had been appointed.

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