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Great Ormond Street Hospital admits errors led to boy’s death

PUBLISHED

Mistakes by Great Ormond Street contributed to the death of a five-year-old boy, the children’s hospital has admitted – just months after it concluded a legal case with his family in which it denied responsibility.

The world-renowned children’s hospital failed to flag results of a crucial blood test, showing that Walif Yafi had a dangerous infection, to doctors at King’s College Hospital where he had been receiving treatment. He died a few weeks later, in September 2017.

In September this year, Walif’s parents agreed an out-of-court settlement with Great Ormond Street, which admitted negligence but denied liability for the boy’s death. However, this week the hospital admitted an expert had reviewed the case ahead of the settlement and concluded its actions did contribute to Walif’s death. The hospital said it had been under no duty to share these results with Walif’s parents at the time.

Walif had a liver transplant in 2012 after suffering cancer shortly after his birth, and was being overseen by Great Ormond Street as an outpatient, as well as by the transplant team at King’s College Hospital, in south London. 

On 24 August 2017, he had a routine blood test at Great Ormond Street, which showed he had an adenovirus infection – something that is common in children whose immune system is being suppressed by drugs, as Walif’s was because of his transplant. If untreated, the infection can be deadly.

But the blood test result was not communicated to the team at King’s College Hospital. Shortly afterwards, Walif’s health deteriorated and he was admitted to hospital. He was transferred to King’s College Hospital a week later, and it was not until 7 September that the infection was confirmed. 

By this stage, he was severely unwell and, though he began anti-viral therapy, Walif suffered multiple organ failure from the spread of the infection. On 30 September, he suffered cardiac arrest and died.

It was only when approached by The Independent this week that the trust revealed its expert had, in the course of negotiating the settlement with Walif’s parents, determined the hospital did materially contribute to the child’s death.

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Source: The Independent, 29 November 2020

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