Teenage girl dies after out-of-hours GP fails to diagnose clot

Shannon Deakin
Shannon Deakin
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THE parents of a teenager who died hours after visiting an out-of-hours GP in Yorkshire said they would take legal advice after a coroner ruled their daughter was killed by an undiagnosed deep vein thrombosis.

Student Shannon Deakin, 16, limped into the surgery with what were described as “knife-like” pains after her left thigh became swollen and turned red. She was seen by newly-qualified locum GP Karim Mohammed.

He diagnosed an infection and gave her antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs at the Barnsley Hospital centre, run by private firm Care UK. She was advised to see her own GP within 48 hours if she did not improve.

Shannon, who had 11 GCSEs and was training to be a midwife, collapsed and died at home 12 hours later to the horror of her parents Sue, 44, and Bryan, 59, who said yesterday: “We don’t think she was given a chance.”

Expert emergency medical consultant Alan Fletcher told the Sheffield hearing that if Shannon had been referred to hospital that day she would have been given an ultrasound scan which would have led to treatment.

Dr Fletcher said the teenager’s chances of survival would have been “greatly improved”, but he could not say that she would “more likely than not have survived if she had reached this point in treatment”.

He said the GP should also have examined Shannon’s calves where swelling is a telltale sign of DVT but it was so rare in someone of her age that a doctor would think it was the least likely option.

Delivering a narrative verdict, Sheffield coroner Chris Dorries said he had considered whether there was “culpable human failure” in Shannon’s death or whether it had been “contributed to by neglect”, but he found the appropriate legal criteria were not met.

The inquest heard Shannon had been prescribed the Dianette pill by her GP which is known to increase the chances of developing blood clots.

She had been taking the pill for a month after complaining of acne affecting her back, chest and face but came off it because of side effects just a month before she died on December 4, last year.

A post-mortem examination showed Shannon died after a blood clot moved from her leg through her heart towards her lungs, which pathologist Mudher Al-Adnani said was “extremely rare” in one so young.

Dr Mohammed said that because of the teenager’s brief period on the pill and a lack of negative family history he did not ask any further questions and excluded DVT from his diagnosis.

But Shannon’s mother, who had accompanied her daughter, told the inquest Dr Mohammed failed to notice her daughter’s swollen left foot and said the doctor told her: “It’s either a blood clot or an infection.”

GP expert James Gray said the locum’s assessment was “reasonable” but it may have been prudent for him to arrange an ultrasound scan. He remained “unconvinced” the GP had looked into all the risk factors.

After the hearing, Mrs Deakin, of Croft Road, Hoyland, Barnsley, said: “We took the GP at his word. Things could definitely have been done more differently and Shannon might have stood a chance.

“We haven’t a clue how she got DVT. I kept asking her if she had suffered a fall or a bump but she said not. It is a complete mystery.”

Mr Deakin said: “She was perfectly fine three days earlier. It just came on so quickly. Since her death it has been a total living nightmare. The day Shannon died we died.”