Greg Bear: Inquest told that teenager should have gone to hospital sooner

Greg Bear
Greg Bear

A SUTTON teenager who died from septicaemia days after displaying flu-like symptoms should have been admitted to hospital sooner, an inquest in Nottingham was told.

Greg Bear’s concerned parents contacted his GP surgery four times in five days before he was taken to Kings Mill Hospital. He died the following day.

Mum Elizabeth Bear first contacted Willowbrook Medical Practice, in Sutton, on 16th December 2010.

He was seen by a paramedic on the 19th, went to see a doctor on the 20th, and spoke to another doctor the day after.

Each time it was concluded he was suffering from flu.

Mrs Bear said they were told by paramedic Keith Knowles hospital treatment was not necessary.

She said: “I asked if he needed to go to hospital but he said ‘if I was to take every 17-year-old who was coughing up blood to hospital, the system would grind to a halt’.”

Mrs Bear explained her frustration at contacting the GP surgery for a fourth time only to be told to monitor Greg’s condition and check for deterioration.

The call, made 24 hours before Greg died, was taken by Dr Christopher Cope who was newly qualified and had never dealt with a complex situation before.

Mrs Bear said: “Greg was red and had pain in his groin and bottom, he was burning up, he was coughing up blood and bile.

“He was in excruciating agony, his fingers were blue, his face was red and hot.

“We were told to keep giving him paracetamol and to come in if he got worse.

“I thought I wasn’t getting anywhere, I was left not knowing what to do.”

A second paramedic was called later that day and Greg was taken to King’s Mill.

On arrival he was asked by doctors when he last passed urine, which was three days ago. No doctors had previously asked about his urine output.

He died the following morning.

Mrs Bear’s statement said: “I think the intensive care unit (ICU) did everything within their powers to save him, he just got there too late.”

Dr Anita Bloor, an independent expert who was instructed to assess the GP management of the case, told the inquest there were a number of signs suggesting Greg’s condition was more serious than flu.

She said coughing up blood was the ‘most significant change’ in Greg’s symptoms.

Dr Bloor added: “His condition was unusual for a fit, healthy young person. My level of suspicion that there might be something more serious going on would be raised.

“His parents are concerned enough to keep contacting the service for help and advice.”

On Greg’s first visit to the GP surgery Dr Andrew Watts was unable to get a reading from a pulse oximeter which measures oxygen saturation levels in the blood.

Dr Watts thought the equipment may have been faulty.

Dr Bloor said further investigations should have taken place to test the equipment, which had been working fine earlier that day.

She said: “If there was still no reading, there must be an underlying reason.

“Other boxes were being ticked for a medical condition other than flu. One should have been thinking about other medical conditions at that stage.”

Dr Bloor said if Greg had been asked about his urine output he would have been admitted to hospital.

She added: “Any doctor that has a patient who has not passed urine for that time would be admitted to hospital. They would be expecting some sort of renal or kidney problem.

“They wouldn’t be thinking about sepsis but it is a clear indicator that something very wrong is going on.

“I’d be thinking this is something I can’t quite put my finger on and I would be thinking about a secondary care assessment at the hospital.”

The inquest continues.