Woodford Green student’s death from meningitis could have been avoided, coroner rules

Lauren Sandell with mother Sharon. Photo: Meningitis Research Foundation UK

Lauren Sandell with mother Sharon. Photo: Meningitis Research Foundation UK - Credit: Archant

A coroner has ruled an 18-year-old girl could be alive today had she been given the life-saving vaccination she was entitled to.

Woodford Green teenager Lauren Sandell died in October 2016. Photo: Meningitis Research Foundation U

Woodford Green teenager Lauren Sandell died in October 2016. Photo: Meningitis Research Foundation UK - Credit: Archant

A coroner ruled an 18-year-old girl could be alive today had she been given the life-saving vaccination she was entitled to.

Lauren Sandell died of meningitis w at her parents home in Tudor Close, Woodford Green, in October 2016 after becoming ill in her first weeks at Bournemouth University.

An inquest at Walthamstow Coroner’s Court heard Lauren had two appointments with practice nurse Carol Dolphin and one with locum Dr Sheedy at The Broadway Surgery in Monkham’s Avenue, Woodford, before her death.

But she wasn’t told she needed the MenACWY vaccine against the disease even though youngsters her age about to start university were at high risk of an illness health officials warned could kill in hours.


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Lauren’s mum Sharon Sandell said after the inquest: “I don’t want this to ever happen again.

“Lauren’s passing has had such a profound effect. Everyone that knew her has found her death devastating.

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“There were so many opportunities to vaccinate her,” she added.

A keen runner, Lauren thought she had food poisoning when she fell ill on September 29 2016.

When her back began hurting the family believed the pains were from running.

Lauren’s boyfriend – visiting her in Bournemouth – called Mrs Sandell at 4am on October 1 because she was shaking.

She returned home that day looking pale and tired.

The next day Lauren and her mum were talking when she started hyperventilating.

Mrs Sandell and son Sam tried to revive her, thinking she was having a panic attack. Paramedics battled in vain to save her.

The court heard Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group ordered free jabs for children aged 13 to 15 in school, but decided 16 to 18-year-olds should get it from GPs.

But Lauren’s school – Woodbridge High in St Barnabas Road, Woodford – did not alert parents.

And Lauren’s surgery – which opted in to extra measures tackling a national outbreak of meningitis w – failed to contact families.

Instead its practice nurse contacted eligible patients in July and November 2015. Lauren was not contacted.

And there was no record of Ms Dolphin warning Lauren about the need to get the life-saving jab when she saw her in March and May 2016.

The coroner concluded there was no warning system in place to alert Dr Sheedy that Lauren needed the jab.

Another chance to vaccinate Lauren was missed in September 2016 when Mrs Sandell saw Ms Dolphin.

She asked if she was stressed when she noted Mrs Sandell’s weight. Mrs Sandell mentioned Lauren was about to start university.

Nurse Dolphin asked if Lauren had received the MenACWY jab. Mrs Sandell said she knew nothing about it.

The coroner said Ms Dolphin failed to explain the serious risks of Lauren not getting the jab.

Ms Dolphin claimed Lauren’s mum called her daughter from the surgery to come in straightaway for the jab but she wasn’t available to.

However, Mrs Sandell said Ms Dolphin told her the surgery’s doses of MenACWY were earmarked for other patients and it took two weeks for extra to arrive.

Ms Dolphin claimed she offered an appointment that day denying she said there was no spare vaccine.

Mrs Sandell said had she known the seriousness of the disease she would have got the jab privately.

The coroner ruled out Ms Dolphin’s version describing her accounts as variable unlike Mrs Sandell’s.

The surgery also believed one vaccine limited to five doses per order was available, but in fact there was a second drug offered in limitless supply.

Mrs Sandell said: “I feel vindicated. The truth has come out.”

Returning a narrative verdict, Ms Persaud stated had Lauren received the jab before university “it is likely her death would have been avoided”.

She called for an audit of GP surgeries to protect patients not vaccinated at school.

“GP practices are the safety net,” she said.

Mrs Sandell commented: “Lauren’s legacy lives on. She has made a difference today.”

Since her death The Broadway has improved training, admin and its vaccination record, the coroner said.

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