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The tragic and avoidable death of an 8 year old boy has highlighted the consequences of medical misdiagnosis.
Six months after the coroner’s verdict was delivered, in which it was stated that there was “a failure to provide basic medical care”, Callum Cartlidge’s parents are still waiting for an apology from the Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
Callum was diagnosed with tonsillitis and despite his mum asking for a blood test as he had been ill in the months before the diagnosis, the hospital staff told her he wasn’t at a stage to have a blood test.
A blood test would have shown that Callum was suffering from Addisonian crisis. If discovered, this could have been treated and the underlying Addison’s Disease would have been diagnosed.
As it was, Callum was discharged and tragically suffered a cardiac arrest at home the next day. Despite living just 1.9 miles from Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, Paramedics rushed him back to Worcestershire Royal Hospital which took 23 minutes. At this point, Alexandra Hospital had stopped taking paediatric emergencies due to a shortage of doctors. Although the coroner found this didn’t impact on Callum’s survival, it highlights the fragility of the NHS once again.
Addison’s Crisis is a potentially life-threatening condition resulting in low blood pressure, low levels of sugar and high levels of potassium, resulting in the need for immediate medical care.
It is usually the result of physical stress in someone with undiagnosed or untreated Addison’s Disease. The patient’s body does not have the ability to produce the increase in cortisol required to deal with the physical stress the body is dealing with, and so can lead to an Addisonian crisis.