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11 February 2022 | Comment | Article by Rebecca Mather

Hugh James supports family through Inquest into Skyla Whiting death

Specialist lawyers in our Inquest team provided holistic support to the family of 4-year-old Skyla Whiting, who died from sepsis after doctors wrongly assumed she was suffering from a virus.

Skyla’s family waited patiently for three years for the coroners’ conclusion into their daughter’s death.

They were guided throughout by Rebecca Mather, an Associate in the Inquest team, who also instructed counsel Nia Frobisher from 7 Bedford Row Chambers.

Skyla, passed away on 15 May 2018, just days before her fifth birthday. The inquest into her death at Newport Coroners’ Court heard that heard that Skyla was seen by a GP before being admitted to Neville Hall Hospital with a fever, high temperature and elevated heart rate.

After being diagnosed with a viral infection at the hospital Skyla was discharged home. However, her parents were still concerned and returned to hospital the next day. Evidence at the inquest confirmed that the doctors who saw Skyla that night did not consider that she had sepsis. It was not until the following morning, on 14 May, that a senior consultant recognised she was suffering from septic shock.

Skyla was taken to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff but sadly died the following day.

On Friday 28 January 2022 the Assistant Coroner confirmed that Skyla’s death could have been avoided with appropriate medical care. A narrative conclusion citied a delay in diagnosis of her sepsis condition as a contributing factor to her death.

Commenting on the case, Hugh James Associate Rebecca Mather, said:

“It has been an honour to assist the family throughout this difficult inquest process. From the outset they’ve asked for a full investigation into the sad and tragic circumstances of their daughter’s death.

“From day one the family’s focus has been to raise awareness for sepsis to ensure that lessons were learned, and procedures changed, to prevent another family facing the same tragic outcome. Sadly, despite continued attempts to raise awareness for sepsis the symptoms can often be missed or misdiagnosed as viral infections – as was the case with Skyla. This case highlights yet again the importance of considering sepsis at an early stage seeking specialist medical advice.

“Credit must be given to Mr and Mrs Whiting who have been tireless in their mission to seek justice for their daughter and to use this case as a warning to others. I just hope that this decision will go some way in allowing Skyla’s family to draw a line under these heart-breaking events.”

At the inquest the family heard evidence from the health board that additional training, support, and new procedures have been introduced to ensure that measures were in place to prevent a recurrence of these events.

Skyla’s mother, Amy Whiting, spoke out following the coroner’s ruling and said:

“The whole inquest process is such an emotional and traumatic process, Rebecca and Nia made sure that we fully understood the whole process and were amazing at explaining everything to us. They really looked after us and made sure the lead up and the day really went smoothly.

“They got us the best possible outcome that we could have got. Thank you, Hugh James for providing an excellent service under such difficult circumstances.”

The family also commented that the importance of the specialist representation provided by Hugh James meant they were reassured that their voice would be heard at the Inquest raising concerns and ensuring opportunities to learn lessons were explored. Mrs Whiting said she felt that she would have been unable to fully participate in the inquest process without the assistance of Hugh James.

If you would like advice about any of the topics in the story, contact us.

Author bio

Since completing her training at Hugh James Rebecca has Specialised entirely in clinical negligence and NHS Redress complaints.

In addition to running her own caseload covering a range of injuries to include orthopaedic claims, delay in diagnosis of cancer, dental claims and NHS Redress complaints; Rebecca assists her colleagues in the department with more complex cases.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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