University Hospital of North Staffordshire admits care errors led to 8-year-old's death
A HOSPITAL has admitted there were "breaches in the duty of care" provided to an eight-year-old girl who died of pneumonia 24 hours after being discharged.
Zoe Keeling was allowed to leave the University Hospital of North Staffordshire despite being seriously ill and showing signs of a bacterial infection.
She had been suffering from a high temperature, a cough and vomiting for more than a week.
Zoe died at her family's home in Meir Hay on March 8, 2009, leaving her parents convinced she had received sub-standard care.
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Now NHS lawyers have accepted the hospital's failure to perform a chest X-ray on Zoe and diagnose her properly had been 'causative' of her death.
But parents Anita Wilkes and Paul Keeling, who are claiming damages against the hospital, today said the admission brings no sense of resolution for them.
Anita, aged 45, of Vienna Way, said: "They've admitted that Zoe would still be here if she had got the proper care.
"But all we have left now is Zoe's grave. I'm not really feeling anything now.
"When we got to the hospital a junior doctor saw how ill she was.
"He said she'd need to be admitted for 48 hours so she could have a blood test and an X-ray, and nurses came to prepare her.
"But she was never properly admitted. She was just taken to an observation ward. There were no blood tests, no X-ray. She was discharged after just six hours.
"That junior doctor was the only one who saw something was wrong. If he'd got his way, Zoe would have survived."
A post-mortem examination revealed Sandford Hill Primary School pupil Zoe died from bronchial pneumonia and toxic shock due to the infection, and chronic bronchitis.
Following Zoe's death, her parents were not even allowed to grieve properly, as they faced suspicions that they had somehow been to blame.
Anita added: "Police officers came to our house with a forensics van. The street thought that we'd killed her. We weren't allowed to go with Zoe in the ambulance, and Paul was questioned for an hour about what had happened."
Paul's aunt Elizabeth Boyd-Harvey-Keeling, who has been representing the family, said her nephew was still furious at the hospital for its failures.
She said: "He's been very angry since Zoe died. Sometimes I think his anger has been the only thing that's kept them going.
"When we got the letter from the NHS, where they admitted their mistakes, that only made him angrier."
The NHS Litigation Authority is preparing to pay out damages in the case.
In a letter to the family, case manager David Duguid said: "We admit there were breaches in the duty of care provided to Zoe by the trust. These breaches were causative of her unfortunate death."
Hospital spokesman Andrew Ashcroft said: "We would like to offer our sincere condolences.
"Although the coroner concluded that Zoe had died from natural causes, the trust has accepted that there were some errors in Zoe's care."