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Family of Cornwall girl, 6, misled about cause of death, coroner says | Children

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A six-year-old girl who died of sepsis was actually suffering from a blood condition triggered by an E coli infection, an inquest has heard.

Coco Rose Bradford was taken to Royal Cornwall Hospital in the summer of 2017 with stomach issues and then transferred to Bristol Royal Children’s Hospital, where she died.

The following year, an independent review reported failures in her care in Cornwall and the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust apologized for their treatment of her.

Her family remained convinced that she had died of sepsis and that she could have been saved if she had received antibiotics.

But on Friday Coroner Andrew Cox, sitting in Truro, found Coco had died of multi-organ failure caused by haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The survey heard that there is no proven treatment for HUS.

Cox said Coco’s family had been misled by the sepsis diagnosis, which he said was deeply regrettable, adding, “I actually find Coco had overwhelming HUS, not overwhelming sepsis.”

During the inquest, the court heard Coco’s family believed staff at Cornish Hospital were ‘dismissive, rude and arrogant’ and did not take her condition seriously.

Cox found that although staff recognized the risk of HUS from Coco’s admission, it was not clearly defined in a strong management plan. The coroner also said a miscommunication made Coco “a kind of hostage to fortune”.

He discovered that Coco had died of natural causes, specifically HUS resulting from a complication of an E coli infection.

After the hearing, Coco’s family said: “Four and a half years after Coco’s death, three years after the trust fully accepted a series of failings in their care, we heard for the first time in court the suggestion that Coco did not have sepsis.”

They said they felt like they had been misled for years, adding: “Coco should now be in secondary school, she should brighten our lives with her beautiful smile and live her best life. We never accept life without Coco.

The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust said it deeply regretted the failures in Coco’s care.

Medical director Dr Allister Grant said: ‘Although the coroner concluded, based on expert evidence, that different treatment would not have averted Coco’s tragic death, that does not detract from to the fact that we failed Coco and her family.

“We also regret that Coco’s family suffered additional distress in believing that Coco’s poor condition was due to sepsis, as opposed to a crushing inflammatory disease called HUS.”

Family of Cornwall girl, 6, misled about cause of death, coroner says | Children

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