Oliver Hall inquest: Meningitis symptoms a ‘smouldering’ fire


Oliver HallImage copyright

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Ollie Hall had been assessed by paramedics and GPs the day before he died

Doctors who sent a boy home hours before he died of meningitis should have known how fast the infection could progress, an inquest has been told.

Six-year-old Oliver Hall, of Halesworth, Suffolk, died the day after his symptoms began in October 2017.

Dr Niall Cameron said the condition could be “smouldering, then suddenly burst into flames”, but doctors did not act unreasonably by not diagnosing it.

The inquest previously heard faster diagnosis could have saved his life.

Dr Cameron, an expert in medical appraisal, said GPs had to be aware that children could present with “seemingly innocuous symptoms, but can become unwell very quickly”.

“It should be treated with extreme caution,” he said.

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Hall family

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Ollie died less than 24 hours after contracting meningitis B

Oliver’s mother Georgie called the NHS 111 service when her son complained of a headache, sore jaw and fever.

Two paramedics took him to his doctors surgery where he was examined by a trainee GP and his superior, who diagnosed a viral infection and sent him home.

In an earlier report, Dr Cameron said this was not unreasonable, but he would have wanted to examine the patient closely to test their responsiveness.

“Everyone is aware of the meningitis rash. It is something you might never see, but you would hope that you would recognise it when you see it,” he said.

After leaving the surgery the first time, Ollie’s condition worsened and he was brought back again.

He was given an injection of antibiotics before his parents drove him to the James Paget Hospital where he died the following morning.

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Hall family

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He was ranked at the highest risk level on his arrival at hospital

A second expert witness, Dr Sarbani Ray, said the fact that Ollie’s mother had brought him in two hours early for his first appointment should have rung alarm bells.

Given Ollie’s symptoms, including an unexplained fever and aversion to bright light, meningitis could not be ruled out by the doctors, she added.

The inquest continues.

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