Barts Health NHS trust has admitted they were responsible for the death of three-week-old Caliel Smith-Kwami, who died shortly after being discharged from hospital without receiving the results of important blood tests.
Caliel’s mother, Sabreena Smith, 27, had legally challenged the Trust after the death of her son on August 17 2016. He had suffered a cardiac arrest due to low blood glucose levels that were caused by a condition that heightened the level of insulin in his blood.
Smith said: “Caliel was taken from us far too soon but the three weeks I had with him were the best time of my life.
“More than two years on from his death it is still very hard to think about what happened and how, if things had been different, he could have still been here.”
The infant was placed in an intensive care unit for a number of days before his blood sugar level returned to normal and he was then discharged on August 2.
On August 17, after his mother was concerned for his health, Caliel was taken to Newham Hospital where he died just hours later.
Smith said: “It is absolutely vital that everything I have been through never happens again and I hope that the investigation, inquest and now this admission of liability are signs that lessons are already being learned from Caliel’s death.”
An inquest into Caliel’s death showed that he was discharged before vital insulin test results had been returned, due to a problem with a lab analyser. These results would have shown that the child needed urgent specialised care. The hospital also failed to notify community midwives of Caliel’s discharge from the hospital and so they were also unable to follow up the results of his tests.
Philippa Luscombe, a partner in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches Soliciters, said in a recent press release: “It is clear that the coroner in Caliel’s case felt that the care he received was not adequate and that had he received suitable care, he would have survived.
“Her report will therefore require the trust to look at its systems of availability and reporting of test results for babies with similar presentation and ensure that there is a structured and joined up approach.”
Nadia Persaud, the coroner, listed concerns that highlighted the need for action within Barts Health NHS Trust.
Nadia Persaud said in her report: “During the course of the inquest the evidence revealed matters giving rise to concern. In my opinion, there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken.”
Following Caliel’s death, Sabreena Smith had medical negligence lawyers Irwin Mitchell investigate the care her son received. In light of this, a spokesperson for the Trust has told the British Medical Journal that Barts Health NHS Trust offer it’s “unreserved apologies” to Sabreena and has admitted full liability for her son’s death on March 15.
Georgie Cushing, a medical negligence solicitor from Irwin Mitchell, said: “This is a truly devastating case which is made even more tragic by the fact that Caliel’s death could and should have been avoided.
“Whilst nothing will ever change what Sabreena and her family have been through, we are pleased that the Trust has acknowledged failings in the care Caliel received, and made improvements to the care their patients receive. We welcome the Trust’s pledge to learn lessons and introduce new practices to improve patient care. It is vital that staff uphold these at all times so others don’t have to suffer the pain that Sabreena has.”
Barts Health NHS Trust offered an undisclosed settlement to Sabreena Smith to help her in getting support following her ordeal, and the Trust have said that they will now ensure all newborn tests are followed up before discharge and that the correct information is available for follow up appointments with community midwives.
Alwen Williams CBE, the Trust’s Chief Executive said: “Whilst I appreciate no words will change the very sad outcome in Caliel’s care I was extremely saddened to hear that there were failings in the care provided by the Trust to your son which contributed to his death.”
Georgie Cushing added: “We hope that the admission and apology from the Trust can provide some sort of closure for Sabreena and she can try to look to the future.”