Friday, 27 November 2015

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Doctor tells Carlisle teenager's inquest: I got diagnosis wrong

A hospital doctor has admitted that he did not correctly diagnose the internal injuries of a Carlisle teenager who died less than two weeks later.

Ashley Porter photo
Ashley Porter

Ashley Porter, from Deepdale Drive, died in June 2010 – just a day after his 19th birthday – after he started coughing up blood during his school lunch break.

An inquest into his death was reopened in Cockermouth by coroner David Roberts.

Dr John Billett, who was the on-call consultant physician at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary when Ashley was taken there at the end of May 2010, told the hearing that, because of his symptoms, he believed that the patient was vomiting blood because he was bleeding in his gastrointestinal tract.

However, at the time it could not be investigated further because there was no out-of-hours cover in the hospital’s endoscopy department.

Dr Billett said that situation had since changed with the creation of out-of-hours coverage.

He said that his diagnosis was wrong and added: “With the benefit of hindsight I know that my diagnosis was incorrect.”

Medical notes were also available at the time where other health professionals stated that Ashley was coughing, not vomiting, blood – suggesting the injury was higher up in his chest area – but Dr Billett said he had not read them.

The inquest heard that by the time Ashley’s condition later stabilised and he was discharged with a course of antibiotics to treat suspected pneumonia – X-rays showed a shaded area in the top of his chest.

In a statement Dr Mary Jenkins, a pathologist, said that an “abnormal junction” on the bronchopulmonary artery had led to the haemorrhage.

Ashley had suffered from heart problems all of his life and underwent four major operations – the latest in January 2010 – and it was thought he was making a good recovery before he started feeling very tired.

Corrinna Cartwright, who was the headteacher at James Rennie School at the time, told the court that he had been off ill following the earlier incident and when he returned to school in June he complained he did not feel well and started coughing up blood.

She said: “He began to bleed from his mouth and nose. He was sitting in a chair and he appeared to have a seizure.”

Mrs Cartwright said Ashley did not let his health problems hold him back and added: “He was a really brave soldier, he wasn’t a moaner, and would get on with life.”

Speaking before the inquest Judith Porter, his 53-year-old mother, said, “Ashley was a big part of our lives and we are finding it difficult to accept that he is gone.

“He was a popular boy and although he had had a lot of operations, he wouldn’t complain.

“Most people were surprised to find out he’d had so many health issues.”

The inquest continues.


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