Fizzah Malik inquest: Two year wait family’s ‘closure’ after daughter, 5, died in father’s arms

PUBLISHED: 12:00 08 October 2015

The inquest for 5-year-old  Fizzah Malik, She died in December 2013 after two doctors said she was OK 48 hours earlier.
Marshal and Rubina Aashtar, with suns Haider Malik, age 16 and Hasnain Malik, age 17.

The inquest for 5-year-old Fizzah Malik, She died in December 2013 after two doctors said she was OK 48 hours earlier. Marshal and Rubina Aashtar, with suns Haider Malik, age 16 and Hasnain Malik, age 17.


A coroner has apologised to the heartbroken parents of a five-year-old girl who died in her father’s arms, for their two-year wait to find out if she could have been saved by doctors.

Fizzah’s illness

Fizzah Malik died from pneumonia caused by an infectious bacteria, streptococcus.

The post-mortem also found an abscess in Fizzah’s lungs and a pleurisy, which is when inflamed parts of the lungs rub together causing pain.

These were both a result of the pneumonia.

The question senior coroner Nadia Persaud wants answered is whether the pleurisy should have been detected by either of the doctors earlier – this is why she has asked for a causation expert.

It is believed the pleurisy caused the pain in Fizzah’s chest, which Dr Mohsin noted.

The expert witness Dr Nigel Ineson explained it can be hard to identify the rubbing, especially on a five-year-old girl as it is so rare for children to get this ailment.

Monday’s inquest at Walthamstow Coroner’s Court, was adjourned provisionally until December 3, almost two years since Fizzah Malik died after doctors said she had a virus.

Senior coroner Nadia Persaud apologised to the family, but explained she wanted a causation expert to explain whether a fatal lung condition could have been detected by GPs earlier.

Dad Marshal Aashtar, 45, of Avondale Crescent, Redbridge, told the Recorder: “We just want some closure. We have lost friends because it is too painful to see them in the park with their sons and daughters.”

Fizzah died in her father’s arms less than 36 hours after a doctor sent her home.

Fizzah MalikFizzah Malik

The court heard on Monday how after two days of vomiting, pain in her chest and a throat rash, Fizzah was taken to her GP and later the out-of-hours doctor at King George Hospital, Barley Lane, Goodmayes on December 3, 2013.

Both doctors, Dr Barzan Izzat and Dr Nazmul Mohsin, diagnosed a viral infection and prescribed Nurofen and Calpol.

Dr Mohsin told the court he came to his conclusion based on Fizzah’s “history” and his “examination”.

He added: “I remember the chest pain was strange. I could not find out where that was coming from.”

Fizzah Malik with parents Rubina and MarshalFizzah Malik with parents Rubina and Marshal

The next day Fizzah’s mother Rubina Aashtar, 43, called the GP surgery, but the secretary told her she could not speak to a doctor and had to go to A&E.

On December 5 Fizzah’s condition had worsened, her breathing had shortened, and when Mr Aashtar brought her some warm milk while she watched TV “her head just dropped”.

He told the court: “I tried to resuscitate her and screamed for Rubina.

“I did mouth-to-mouth and everything that was in her came out.”

Fizzah was taken to Whipps Cross Hospital, Whipps Cross Road, Leytonstone, but died from a cardiac arrest.

Pathologist Dr Liina Kiho confirmed at the inquest her heart had stopped due to a combination of pneumonia caused by a bacterial infection, streptococcus, and inflammation and an abscess in Fizzah’s lungs.

Mr Aashtar told the court: “We have just lost our baby, it is not about blame, it is just so the health system can learn.

“Every day we go through hell. We go out and see Fizzah’s friends growing up, they’re now seven or eight.

“I have nine nieces. My wife always wanted a daughter and we were over the moon when Fizzah was born.”

Mrs Aashtar broke down in tears while her husband described the tragic events. She told the court: “My daughter passed away. She isn’t coming back. My family is all messed up.”

Expert witness Dr Nigel Ineson, a fellow of the Royal College of Paediatricians, said: “I have never seen a lung abscess in a five-year-old in my 30 plus years as a GP. It is tragic.

“I would like to have a good way of telling the difference between viral and bacterial infections, but I’m not sure that test exists.”

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