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Mistakes were made, admits Royal Free following death of boy, nine

Chess champion died from severe asthma attack days after being discharged

24 March, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Michael Uriely died in August 2015

THE Royal Free this week admitted “mistakes were made” over the care of a nine-year-old chess champion who died days after being discharged.

The Hampstead NHS Trust said it had carried out two reviews following the death of Michael Uriely, a Westminster Under School pupil, in August 2015 – and a specialist asthma clinic has also been set up.

The hospital’s statement followed a coroner’s ruling last Thursday that it was “more likely than not” the boy’s life would have been saved if doctors had not discharged him. Michael died from a severe asthma attack six days later at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington.

“We note the findings of the coroner and acknowledge that mistakes were made when Michael attended the Royal Free Hospital in August 2015,” the hospital said.

Michael was competing in a mind sports olympiad tournament at the JW3 Centre when he was first taken ill on August 18. His mother, Ayelet, had told the inquest at Westminster Coroner’s Court, Victoria, how she took her son to the Royal Free A&E two days running.

She was told to stop being “hysterical”, despite the youngster suffering violent coughing and vomiting fits in the paediatric A&E waiting room, the inquest heard.

The coroner said the Royal Free should have recognised the “enduring chronicity and severity of his asthma” when he was admitted.

Westminster Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe said: “Had he remained in hospital on a high dose of oral steroids and been referred for a specialist respiratory paediatric opinion, it is more likely than not that his death on August 25 would have been prevented.”

Dr Radcliffe recorded a narrative verdict and said she would file a “preventable deaths” report on the case.

Speaking after the hearing, Ms Uriely said: “Michael was an extraordinary boy, both in personality and intelligence, who came to us after four gruelling years of fertility treatment. He doted on his younger twin sisters, who adored him, and always joined in with their games.

“It seems clear to us and others who knew him well that Michael had an exceptional life ahead of him which, if his brief childhood was anything to go by, he would have relished.”

She added: “We hope that lessons are learned so no other child’s life is cut short as Michael’s was and no other parent feels the same despair we have.”

A statement from the Royal Free said: “We would like to express our deepest condolences to the Uriely family and to say sorry for failings in the care given to Michael. Everybody involved in his care is devastated by his death.

“We note the findings of the coroner and acknowledge that mistakes were made when Michael attended the Royal Free Hospital in August 2015. We have since carried out two investigations to understand how we can improve the care given to asthma patients and the findings have been shared with the Uriely family.

“As a result of the investigations we have implemented a number of changes to our asthma care, including the appointment of an asthma lead consultant and asthma lead nurse, who work with all clinical staff to ensure the trust meets the best standards in asthma care.

“They also meet regularly and work closely with other health care providers to ensure patients have continuity of care. A new asthma clinic, separate from the allergy clinic, has also been set up, which means that asthma patients can access dedicated care.”

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