South East Wales

Possible legal action over Thomas Smith's meningitis death

Thomas Smith Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption An inquest heard doctors failed to diagnose Thomas' illness and start treatment with antibiotics immediately

The family of a schoolboy who died from meningitis say they are considering legal action against the hospital, which delayed giving him antibiotics.

Thomas Smith, from Hednesford, was on holiday when he was admitted to Prince Charles Hospital, in Merthyr Tydfil, with six meningitis symptoms.

An inquest found the hospital made "gross failures" when doctors failed to start him on antibiotics for more than four hours.

He died on his 13th birthday last year.

Thomas's parents Andrew and Emma Smith said their son had been "let down" by doctors at the hospital.

A statement issued through their solicitor Lawyer Zak Golombeck said: "The coroner found that there were numerous gross failures in the care afforded to Thomas.

"As such the coroner has decided to write a report to the chief coroner and the health board to ensure that future deaths do not occur in these circumstances.

Hospital criticised

"It is clear that the paediatric team at the Prince Charles Hospital were not working effectively to ensure treatment was commenced as early as possible.

"In essence, they let Thomas down."

Mr Golombeck said he was advising the family with regard to legal action.

Coroner Christopher Woolley criticised the hospital for failing the schoolboy in their duty of care and ordered a report to prevent similar deaths taking place at Prince Charles Hospital.

Thomas, of Hednesford, near Birmingham, was referred to the hospital by an out-of-hours GP when he fell ill in May 2013.

He was seen by Dr Kwong-Tou Yip and consultant paediatrician Dr Ezzat Afifi who both gave him paracetamol.

Four hours later he was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis and was eventually given antibiotics.

He later fell into a coma and was transferred to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff but never recovered.

On Tuesday, chief executive of Cwm Taf University Health Board, Allison Williams, said the health board would consider the coroner's findings and continue to implement the changes required to address any failings in service.

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