Something that a lot of people might not be aware of is the frequency of mistakes made by medical professionals, which could lead to many complications—and even death. A wrong diagnosis or an inappropriate amount of a certain medicine could potentially lead to disaster, and also to irreversible consequences. Sometimes it is just a matter of neglect, as was the case with Kayleigh Donnelly.
The 13-year-old girl paid a visit to her GP with a complaint about stomach ache and severe bloating, but she was quickly sent back home; the GP reassured her that it was just stomach pain and nothing more.
However, the symptoms continued to appear, and Kayleigh’s mother was convinced that there was something very wrong happening to her child. Unfortunately, she was correct.
Despite her young age, Kayleigh had ovarian cancer, making her one of the youngest people to be diagnosed with the illness. She was probably just a few days away from dying.
When she was rushed to the accident and emergency department (A&E), doctors were finally able to find a massive twelve-inch tumor—with a weight of about 7 lb; it was discovered that the cancer had already affected her liver, the spleen, bowels, and her pelvis.
Kayleigh’s mother Lorraine said that taking her to A&E saved her girl’s life, because the doctors said that otherwise she would not be alive now. After a few operations, followed by chemotherapy, Kayleigh is now in remission from the disease—a disease that is mostly common in women in their 50s.
38-year-old Lorraine, who lives in Lancaster, also said that the whole family felt extremely lucky that Kayleigh survived; on the other hand, however, it was a case of really bad luck that she suffered from such a rare case of ovarian cancer.
The first symptoms that Kayleigh experienced were reportedly in January 2016. Her mother said that her daughter had not been to the toilet for a few weeks and she felt exhausted; when she decided to take her to a doctor, they diagnosed her with constipation and prescribed a laxative, sending them home after the examination.
However, the laxatives proved to have absolutely no effect. They went the to the doctor’s office four times in total, and she called five times during the following month. Each and every time the doctor insisted that Kayleigh was just constipated and that eventually the laxatives would do their job.
At one point, Kayleigh’s doctor finally agreed for a further examination and sent her for a scan at the Queen Victoria Centre in Morecambe. Upon her arrival, the medical staff told her that they could not carry out a scan only because of constipation symptoms, and they told her to go home. The teenager got worse the next day, and her mother decided not waste any more time, so she took her straight to Royal Lancaster Infirmary’s A&E.
As Lorraine said, her daughter was sick the whole time, and her stomach was getting bigger and bigger. The skin all over her daughter’s body became pale and waxy, and the worried mother didn’t know exactly was going on—but she knew it was something very serious.
The 13-year-old girl said that she was constantly suffering and had no idea what was wrong with her, and her mother was crying a lot through the whole time. The chemotherapy ended last August, and she now visits a doctor every month for a routine check-up.
The medical director at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust—Dr. David Walker—made an official apology on behalf of the Trust for the distress that Kayleigh and her family had to go through and added that there was currently an investigation set in motion.
Medical errors are still not widely addressed as an issue, but different US reports suggest that they are the third leading cause of death in the United States. According to one of the studies’ estimations, more than 250,000 people die annually due to mistakes made by medical staff, which is a staggering number. The study was conducted over eight years by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and it was published in 2016.