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Anthony Searle secures finding of neglect against Health Board in medical inquest

17th February 2020

Following a week-long inquest in Pontypridd, Wales, a jury have returned the rare and serious conclusion of ‘natural causes contributed to by neglect’ in respect of the tragic death of a baby, Lewys Crawford. Anthony Searle represented Lewys’ family and was instructed by Rebecca Mather of Hugh James.

At just 13 weeks old, Lewys presented to A&E with signs of sepsis. Neither a Consultant in Emergency Medicine nor a Paediatric Registrar recognised how ill Lewys was. Broad-spectrum antibiotics should have been commenced within an hour of initial assessment pursuant to the NICE guideline, Sepsis: recognition, diagnosis and early management. Expert evidence established that this basic treatment would have saved Lewys’ life. However, antibiotics were not commenced for over 6 hours, by which point Lewys had deteriorated significantly. He sadly died of meningococcal septicaemia.

Anthony’s robust questioning led to a number of admissions from the healthcare professionals involved. As a result, following legal argument, Anthony successfully persuaded the Senior Coroner to leave the finding of neglect to the jury.

Prior to the inquest, the Senior Coroner also accepted Anthony’s submission that, despite being a medical inquest, there were arguable systemic failures sufficient to engage Article 2 of the ECHR. Whilst the Senior Coroner decided by the end of the inquest that Article 2 was no longer engaged, his preliminary ruling allowed a number of important wider issues to be investigated.

The inquest received a significant amount of media attention over the course of the week, with numerous articles on BBC News, ITV News, Metro, The Sun, WalesOnline and the Birmingham Mail.

Anthony is a specialist in clinical negligence and healthcare-related inquests. He accepts instructions from families, public bodies and medical defence organisations.

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