An eight-week-old boy died after a “catalog of failures” in his care in a Bristol hospital, an independent report found.
Ben Condon died on April 17, 2015 at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children after developing acute respiratory distress syndrome, likely caused by human metapneumovirus (hMPV) – like the common cold in adults.
The University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust previously did admitted that failure Giving Ben antibiotics in a timely manner contributed to his death.
His parents, Olympic athlete Allyn and Jenny Condon from Weston-super-Mare, complained to the Parliament and Health Services Ombudsman about his welfare.
The Ombudsman found that the day he died, the doctors knew of Ben’s deterioration and “weren’t giving him the treatment he needed as quickly as they should have”.
“We find that Ben and his family have suffered grave injustice because of the deficiencies we have found in his care and treatment,” said the Ombudsman.
“That’s because the shortcomings we found – which are in addition to the accepted failure to give Ben antibiotics – were all missed opportunities to step in and give Ben the best possible chance to recover from his illness.
“Any mistake would have reduced Ben’s chances of getting the best possible result.”
The report found that Mr. and Mrs. Condon suffered “a grave injustice” in the way the Trust responded to their questions about Ben’s death and the way in which it dealt with their grievances.
The Ombudsman said doctors and nurses did not “adequately” respond to his parents’ concerns about their son’s low temperature or tell them how ill he was.
Although Mr. and Ms. Condon accused the Trust of “covering up” the trust, the report states that the Trust’s actions, which did not “openly and honestly” face Ben’s death, could be viewed as “willful attempt at deception”.
Born at Southmead Hospital on February 17, 2015, at 29 weeks old, Ben spent seven weeks in the pediatric intensive care unit before being allowed home on April 7.
Ben, who weighed only 5 pounds, started coughing and sneezing two days later and was taken to Weston General Hospital before being transferred to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children after becoming lifeless and having difficulty breathing three days later.
An investigation into his death heard his parents say they were repeatedly assured that Ben would be on antibiotics from April 15 when x-rays showed a change in his lungs.
Ben was prescribed antibiotics at 3 p.m. on April 17, but they weren’t given until 8 p.m. At this point he had suffered cardiac arrest and the doctors were performing life-saving treatments.
He died at 9:07 p.m. after suffering a second cardiac arrest.
Mr Condon said: “It has been six years since Ben died and almost four years since the Ombudsman started the investigation.
“We hope that the truth of what happened to Ben now finally becomes clearer and that we are closer to the justice we fought so hard for.
“Our constant desire has been to make sure what happened to Ben doesn’t happen to any other child.
“Our year-long struggle is not only about justice for Ben, but also about ensuring that lessons are learned from events so that no other family suffers as we do, be it because of the preventable death of their child or the way how it is too late care was covered up afterwards.
“Many other families out there are in similar situations to ours. Our message to them is to keep fighting for the truth.”
Novum Law attorney Mary Smith, who represents the Condon family, said: “Allyn and Jenny fought tirelessly for years to uncover the truth about what happened to Ben.
“No family should have to endure what they have to endure.
“Hospital foundations and their employees should be open and honest with families from the start.
“It cannot be right for bereaved families to suffer further severe trauma as they struggle to discover for themselves what happened to their loved one.”
Robert Woolley, Chief Executive of the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“We fully contributed to the independent review carried out by the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Health Service (PHSO).
“We have previously accepted and apologized for failures in Ben’s care and in our communication with his family. We have accepted that failure to give antibiotics in a timely manner was a major contributor to Ben’s death in 2015.
“I want to repeat this apology on behalf of the Trust, and mineMy condolences to Mr. and Mrs. Condon and their families.
“We will continue the recommendations of the report to summarize any findings and improvements we have made in dealing with complaints and communicating with families, along with a solid plan of action if necessary.”