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Child dies while hospital staff take a break

Daniel Lewis Hames, (4) was admitted to Doncaster Royal Infirmary in March 2013, suffering from viral gastroenteritis, a condition that he should have made a full recovery from.
Instead, Daniel tragically died and on top of the anguish of losing their little boy, the family has had to wait for over a year to find out how it happened.
A two-day inquest, held at Doncaster Coroner’s Court, heard that a string of medical blunders had taken place leading up to the child’s death.  One member of staff had taken an extended break, medical records could not be accessed, regular assessments of the child were not made and equipment was not working properly.
Daniel had been a normal healthy boy, other than a nasty episode of viral gastroenteritis in June 2012 when the condition had made him so poorly that he was admitted to hospital and spent a week in the Children’s High Dependency Unit.
Throughout the following summer Daniel had the occasional flare-up of diarrhoea and vomiting but was generally well.
Then on 2 March 2013, after another episode of diarrhoea and vomiting, Daniel’s family had become so concerned about his condition that he was taken to A&E. He was examined by one of the doctors who diagnosed a virus and sent Daniel home.
Within hours of getting home, Daniel began to deteriorate and by 10.30pm that evening had to be rushed back to hospital by ambulance.
Tragically, Daniel, who was supposed to be under observation, choked on his own vomit and died in the early hours of Sunday 3 March.
An internal investigation was carried out by the hospital shortly after the incident and a member of the medical team that had been caring for Daniel was dismissed and may still face disciplinary action.
John Sleightholme, assistant coroner, said that “communications in some way could have done better”, but recorded a verdict of natural causes.
Julie Tansey, clinical negligence lawyer with Atherton Godfrey, said after the hearing: “The family rightly had concerns about the events leading up to Daniel’s death and the inquest has helped provide them with the answers that will hopefully help them  start to come to terms with the tragic loss of their son.
“The only positive thing the family can take out of this is that measures are already being put in place to reduce the chances of such a tragedy happening to anyone else.”

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