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Ignorance about sepsis was a factor in child’s death, says report

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 27 January 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i541
A revised version of the investigation report referred to in this news story is available on NHS England's website
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

England’s health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has said that he will look into whether more clinicians are needed to staff the urgent care service NHS 111, after a report into the death of 1 year old William Mead from septicaemia in December 2014 found that four opportunities for preventing his death were missed.

The family’s general practice in Cornwall and the NHS 111 telephone helpline failed to diagnose and act on the septicaemia that was responsible for his death and the pneumonia that led to it, says the report, seen by The BMJ. Although the review panel concluded that “these did not constitute serious failings by the individuals involved,” had different courses of action been taken, even those at a late stage, William would probably have survived.

In particular, the report concluded that GPs and parents need more information on the key signs of septicaemia and that NHS 111 call advisers should get more training in what questions to ask and when to escalate cases.

Hunt has made a public apology to William’s parents and pledged that lessons would be learnt from the incident. Responding to an MP’s question about the death in the House of Commons on 26 January, …

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