Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Teenager's leukaemia not diagnosed because equipment was switched off


A blood specialist did not carry out a test that could have identified a 13-year-old girl's leukaemia because a crucial piece of equipment was switched off, an inquiry has heard.

Kathryn Beattie died at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow on June 21, 2004, after undergoing emergency surgery for bleeding on the brain.She had been admitted to the city's Victoria Hospital the night before after complaining of mild flu-like symptoms and struggling with her speech.After a brain scan revealed bleeding, Kathryn was transferred to the Southern General for surgery, but died shortly afterwards.

Biomedical scientist Alexander McLauchlan told a fatal accident inquiry that a blood film test, which could have shown up that she had leukaemia, would have been carried out if Kathryn had been admitted to hospital in the daytime.However, after 1pm on Sundays the machine used to stain the film was switched off so that it could be prepared for use the following day.

In blood film tests, a blood sample is pressed between two pieces of glass before being stained and analysed.Mr McLauchlan said Kathryn's blood results would have prompted someone in his position to examine a blood film if the equipment had been available.He told the inquiry at Glasgow Sheriff Court: "They are prepared ready for staining the next morning. That's what happens every night when we are on call.

"If I looked at the blood film that evening I could have said, that looks suspicious."

However, Mr McLauchlan also said that in 2004 he did not think he would have been able to recognise acute myeloid leukemia, the subtype of acute promyelocytic leukemia which Kathryn had.

The inquiry, before Sheriff Linda Ruxton, continues.


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