Alice Sloman: Opportunity missed to prevent girl’s death

Alice Sloman
Image caption Alice Sloman died three days after an MRI scan at Torbay Hospital

Doctors missed an opportunity to prevent a 14-year-old girl suffering a fatal heart attack, an independent expert has told an inquest.

Alice Sloman, who had an undiagnosed genetic condition, died days after an MRI scan at Torbay Hospital last year.

Professor Peter Hindmarsh from Great Ormond Street Hospital said doctors could have discovered she had an enlarged heart before her death.

The inquest is due to finish next Tuesday.

Alice, who is from Torquay but was under the care of hormone specialists from Bristol Children’s Hospital, had a condition which made her heart more than twice as big as it should have been, which put her in danger when anaesthetised.

She was given an anaesthetic before the scan after becoming “extremely anxious” and “hypersensitive”.

Throughout her life she had been prescribed growth hormone, but her parents and doctors did not know the reason for her shortness-mitochondrial disease.

Her parents said they had repeatedly warned doctors they were concerned about a range of symptoms, including breathlessness.

Prof Hindmarsh told the inquest that had doctors given more consideration of a constellation of Alice’s symptoms then earlier diagnosis of her genetic condition would have been made – and that could have led to the discovery of her enlarged heart.

When asked: “Do you think there was an opportunity to make a diagnosis?”, he replied: “Yes I do.”

A consultant paediatrician at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children who recommended Alice be treated for growth hormone deficiency said she was not aware Alice suffered from breathlessness and tired easily.

Meanwhile, the consultant paediatrician at Torbay Hospital who recommended the MRI scan told the inquest he was “not aware” of Alice’s breathlessness problems.

The inquest is due to finish next Tuesday.

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