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Misconduct tribunal issues warning to doctor Faye Hawkins whose misdiagnosis led to death of Elspeth Moore (5)

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A DOCTOR who misdiagnosed a Lymington child's fatal condition as a stomach bug has been given a formal warning by a medical tribunal.

Dr Faye Hawkins wrongly believed Elspeth Moore (5) was suffering from gastroenteritis when she was taken to Southampton General Hospital by her parents in July 2018.

As reported in the A&T, an inquest at Winchester Crown Court the following year heard she had, in fact, been suffering from peritonitis, which consultant paediatric pathologist Dr Darren Fowler described as an “overwhelming infection” after her appendix had burst.

Elspeth Moore (5) died in 2018 after being misdiagnosed
Elspeth Moore (5) died in 2018 after being misdiagnosed

Sepsis developed as her body’s defence system went into overdrive.

The Medical Practioners Tribunal Service heard the allegation involved Dr Hawkins' failure to adequately examine, assess and investigate Elspeth's presenting symptoms following a referral from her GP.

It was further alleged that Dr Hawkins failed to provide enough advice to Elspeth's parents when she was discharged and that Dr Hawkins failed to maintain adequate clinical records.

Elspeth had been suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea when she was referred to the paediatric unit on 3rd July 2018, having been sick 10 days before.

A week later Elspeth was lethargic, and as the weekend progressed she complained her stomach was hurting.

On Monday 25th June she went to school as normal, but her mother was later called to collect Elspeth as she had diarrhoea.

The next day, Mrs Moore took her daughter to her GP, who referred her to the paediatric unit as she was dehydrated and had a high temperature.

Dr Hawkins diagnosed gastroenteritis and the family went home. Although she initially seemed to be improving, on 5th July Elspeth was sick again.

Speaking at her inquest, Mr Moore recalled lying down with Elspeth and telling her he loved her.

She replied: "I love you, daddy" but shortly after she became unresponsive and despite attempts at CPR she could not be revived.

The tribunal hearing heard from Dr Hawkins' legal representative, Marios Lambis QC, who asked the panel to consider Dr Hawkins’ actions as "an isolated case, over four years ago".

He said Dr Hawkins had successfully treated thousands of patients before and since, and pointed out she had gone to "considerable lengths" to change her practice.

The tribunal ruled Dr Hawkins had failed to provide a good standard of care during Elspeth's admission, and prior to discharge there was a "missed opportunity" to carry out a second examination.

The panel ruled this was a "serious failing" below the standard expected.

The tribunal also noted Dr Hawkins had failed to provide adequate safety-netting advice about how frequently they should observe Elspeth's pain and temperature.

However, the panel ruled that Dr Hawkins has taken all necessary steps to prevent recurrence of her misconduct, and the risk of her repeating her actions was low.

She therefore avoided a possible suspension or striking-off order, and was instead handed a warning about her serious misconduct.

The ruling added: "The tribunal was satisfied that her open and repeatedly stated remorse and regret have been genuinely expressed."

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