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5-year-old girl with brain disorder given Calpol by North Devon District hospital and sent home

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: November 01, 2012

By FRANCESCA TAFFS

  • Freya, 5, with her father Jamie

  • Freya at play

  • Freya at play

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CALPOL was recommended by hospital staff to treat a girl with a rare brain disorder who had been fitting every ten seconds — despite her mother insisting something was wrong.

Freya Davies-Redding, 5, was taken to North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) after she collapsed at school at the end of last month.

Despite her parents telling doctors there was something wrong, Freya was sent home three times by the hospital.

She was initially admitted to the Caroline Thorpe Ward on October 27 where she was given a chest x-ray and Calpol before being sent home.

But her parents, Jamie and Claire Redding, who live in Roundswell, Barnstaple, were so concerned about their daughter that they kept her off school the following day and were forced to return to NDDH at the weekend.

Freya was kept in for three nights before being sent home a second time on the Tuesday evening, despite, her mother claimed, one of the nurses on the ward saying they did not think she should leave the hospital.

Claire said: "On the Wednesday morning I had to take her back to see the doctors. They said no there is nothing wrong with her. We were told she couldn't have an EEG because the machine kept breaking.

"I put her in the car and she sat and screamed her head off. He kept saying give her Calpol. I went back up to the ward and said I was not going until we knew what was wrong with her. I said, is it because something is hurting her?"

But despite her deteriorating condition Freya was once again sent home and by Thursday was unable even to stand up unsupported.

Claire said: "It was like somebody had drugged her. She could not do anything. She had gone from being a little girl who could walk and within a week she could not even stand up by herself. It was almost like she had had a stroke.

"I took her back to the hospital and said something was not right. On the Thursday a consultant came round and said 'we'll up her fit medicine' and he was the only one who mentioned doing that. I had been crying and had been hysterical. I am not normally like that. They weren't listening to me."

Freya is paralysed down her left hand side and walks with a limp so was given ultrasound on her hip as doctors thought that may have been the root of the problem.

Her father Jamie said: "We were saying she can no longer walk.

"She was using her right hand to move her left hand. We were very concerned about her. We kept asking 'is nobody going to sort her out?'

"They were basically shutting the door on her. We were pretty helpless. It came to the stage we were going to drive to Bristol and say it had happened that day just to get her seen. When they were giving her Calpol it was making her symptoms worse. You believe the advice of a doctor and we were saying perhaps it is her hip."

Then, ten days after first being admitted to hospital, Freya was seen by her consultant, Dr Arend, who admitted Freya to a hospital in Bristol for further treatment.

Freya's parents said that, while they could not fault the work of Dr Arend, they were deeply concerned at the treatment of their daughter, particularly following a report in the Journal last week regarding a similar incident involving Rose Evett who was in hospital at the same time as Freya.

Claire said: "My daughter could have lost her life. I said the last place I want to be is the hospital but something is not right. In the end you think are you just being paranoid. I knew that she was not right.

"Rose was just left. They just left her in a wheelchair. It is almost like 'they are disabled, so they don't count'."

Jim Bray, Trust spokesman, said: "The patient underwent a thorough examination and all the necessary tests.

"In line with other hospitals, we run a Monday to Friday EEG service. There was a temporary fault with our EEG machine but this was quickly rectified.

"It is unusual to have requests for urgent EEG. If this had been necessary, the patient would have been transferred to a specialist centre.

"After the EEG test, our clinicians acted immediately to manage the patient's care in collaboration with neurology specialists at Bristol Children's Hospital. For rare conditions needing specialist treatment, this is a normal pathway of care for Northern Devon residents.

"During this time we regularly updated the patient's mother, who gave us the impression she was happy with her daughter's management."

Alison Diamond, the Trust's medical director, said: "This was a very complex and difficult diagnosis.

"Once the EEG identified a problem, the team worked closely with Bristol Children's Hospital to manage the patient.

"If it had been an emergency, the patient would have been transferred to Bristol earlier.

"We understand the parents' frustration and are disappointed our levels of care did not reach their expectations.

"We strive to provide all our patients with the utmost care and compassion, regardless of their needs.

"Families regularly praise the high levels of care and compassion they receive on Caroline Thorpe Ward, and we always welcome comments on where we need to improve."

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