Mum’s anger over baby son’s hospital care

Audrey Grinsted with Louis
Audrey Grinsted with Louis

AN angry mother has criticised the Conquest Hospital, claiming doctors failed to spot her baby son’s serious illness.

Audrey Grinsted, 33, of Sandy Close, St Leonards, believes Louis, who is almost two, could have died after it was later discovered he had a kidney infection and suspected meningitis.

Her ordeal started on February 26 when her son fell ill and she took him to A&E.

She said: “Louis was not opening his eyes, wailing as if in discomfort, sleepy and clingy. We were seen straight away by an A&E doctor and paediatrician but after a few observations were sent home. Louis was diagnosed with conjunctivitis and I was promised that our name would be down on an ‘open list’ should things get worse, that we could just call back and we would be known and have easy access to A&E.

“Things did not get better during the night as Louis then started to refuse to drink. The next morning I called A&E and was told to contact my GP or to return only if necessary. The person I spoke to had no clue who we were. I called my GP and was told to wait for a call back in the next few hours. Not satisfied with this, I called the Conquest back and asked to be transferred to the Kipling ward.”

Mrs Grinsted said blood tests were not done until the afternoon and doctors discovered Louis had a kidney infection. They later told her his kidneys were fine after an ultrasound, she added.

“In the middle of the night, a doctor said Louis’s kidneys had stopped working but they did not know why, and he thought I had previously been told this. They prepared us for the growing possibility of being transferred to Evelina Children’s Hospital in London,” she said.

At Evelina an ultrasound showed Louis’s kidneys were enlarged and he was showing signs of meningitis.

Mrs Grinsted added: “Surely if Louis’s kidneys were so enlarged, this should have been picked up at the Conquest, as they were under so much strain already. At Evelina they found Louis had renal failure and septicaemia and was being attacked by a nasty infection. He spent three weeks there.”

She claimed follow-up visits to the Conquest have been beset with problems since. Mrs Grinsted said: “On one visit staff knew we were coming, but did not know why. Nobody asked if Louis was drinking enough, how much he was drinking and so on.

“In a renal patient, this is quite important to know. The consultant in charge then advised me Louis would be given diarolyte as he was showing signs of dehydration. I queried the use of diarolyte with her to ask if she was sure it was ‘kidney friendly’, as I had never seen Evelina use diarolyte to rehydrate children with renal problems. I was assured there were no problems and that it could only be good for him as full of electrolytes. Diarolyte has very high potassium levels and should not be given to patients with kidney and potassium problems.”

On another visit on April 4 Louis’s blood pressure was not checked until the next day, Mrs Grinsted said. “As a result it was too high and now Louis is under high blood pressure medication, prescribed by Evelina.”

Mrs Grinsted wrote a letter of complaint to hospital trust chief executive Darren Grayson and attended a complaints meeting. She said: “Louis’s kidneys are not back to normal but we are all hoping for a good prognosis. Everything started as a kidney infection, which then poisoned his blood and then turned into bacterial meningitis. Although the Conquest did identify the renal problem, it seems it only focused on this, omitting to diagnose meningitis, and then did not manage Louis as a renal patient appropriately.”

A Conquest spokesman said senior doctors met with Mrs Grinstead to discuss her concerns. He added: “At this meeting various actions were agreed and implemented relating to Louis’s ongoing care. A renal specialist from London holds regular children’s renal clinics at the Conquest Hospital and Louis attends these clinics. We work closely with the renal specialists at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London to obtain advice about his care and special requirements.

“We are sorry that recently, due to an administrative error, Louis’s blood pressure was monitored a day later than had originally been agreed. We are endeavouring to work closely with the family to ensure Louis receives the best care he can locally with doctors and nurses at the Conquest working closely with specialists in London.”