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Callum Cartlidge: Rare disease not picked up, inquest hears

Callum Cartlidge Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Callum Cartlidge died after being discharged from hospital

An eight-year-old boy died after being discharged from hospital because staff did not diagnose his life-threatening condition, an inquest has heard.

Callum Cartlidge was “lethargic and yellow” and regularly off school in the months before his death in March 2017.

An ambulance was called at his third GP visit but paramedics were allegedly denied permission to take him to his local hospital in Redditch.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has been investigating the case.

Callum, from Redditch, had seen a GP on 13 February and again on 28 February when he was diagnosed with tonsillitis and a tummy upset and given antibiotics.

Image caption Callum’s family took part in a march to remember their son in April last year

The inquest heard he returned to the surgery on 2 March and his doctor was so concerned by Callum’s sunken eyes and severe dehydration that he called an ambulance.

Paramedics were allegedly told to take him 18 miles (29km) to Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester and not nearby Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, which stopped admitting children to A&E the previous September.

On admission, he was seen at 15:45 GMT, but was not moved to a children’s ward until 18:30 partly due to how busy the A&E unit was.

A trainee doctor who saw Callum said she suspected appendicitis, or inflamed lymph nodes or possibly a urinary tract infection.

Callum was subsequently discharged and died less than 24 hours later.

His post-mortem examination confirmed he had been suffering from Addisonian crisis, a life-threatening progressive condition of Addison’s disease which is caused by damage to the adrenal glands and reduces hormone levels in the body.

The trainee doctor said Addison’s disease was “extremely rare.”

There was “no reason to suggest he had any other ongoing and underlying condition”, she said, and a “common and plausible reason” for him to have had a “hypoglycaemic episode” before he went to hospital was because he had been vomiting and not eating.

The inquest, at Worcestershire Coroner’s Court, heard from Jacqueline Harris, head teacher at Matchborough First School Academy in Redditch, who said Callum was usually fun and a “cheeky chappy” but seemed different on his return after Christmas.

She said he was lethargic and off colour and a nurse was sent to visit him at home when he was repeatedly sent home ill.

The inquest continues.

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