Reece's life 'could have been saved'
THE life of a Derby toddler who died from diabetes could
have been saved if he had not been sent home from hospital, an
inquest has been told.
Reece Sharp died at his Alvaston home on December 18, 24
hours after leaving Derbyshire Children's Hospital. His mother
Charlotte Smith had desperately tried to resuscitate him.
The two-year-old had been suffering from a mystery illness
for five days but had not been tested for diabetes, despite
being assessed by a GP, by a nurse from Derbyshire Health
United, Derby's out-of-hours doctors service, over the phone
and by medics at the hospital.
A postmortem examination revealed he had been suffering from
undiagnosed diabetes, a condition that affects about 17 out of
every 100,000 children and can be controlled with
At an inquest into his death, Julie Mott, a paediatric
registrar from the hospital, said she examined Reece after he
was brought in by his worried parents, Darren Sharp and Miss
Smith, on December 17.
He had been referred to hospital by Dr Mohammed Hussain at
Parkfield Surgery, in London Road, Alvaston, who noticed that
Reece had lost weight, he was lethargic, and that his abdomen
Coroner Dr Robert Hunter asked Dr Hussain that when he
referred Reece to the hospital was it his expectation that
Reece would be admitted, and Dr Hussain said yes.
Ms Mott, in a statement to the inquest, said she looked at
Reece's notes before examining him.
In the statement, she said: “I had considered diabetes, but
it was not top of my concerns at that time.”
She said she had intended to weigh Reece, and when she was
questioned by the coroner as to why she later didn't, she said:
Ms Mott, when she saw Reece, found his chest was clear and
that he was alert and responding. She also said his throat was
red and slightly enlarged, although she did find his abdomen
When asked how difficult it would have been to make a
diagnosis of diabetes, she said: “We could have made a
diagnosis of it. We could have done tests.”
Ms Mott was also asked if she considered testing for
diabetes. She replied: “In retrospect, we should have done but
it did not appear to be indicated.”
Dr Elizabeth Adamson, a consultant community paediatrician
from Derby City Primary Care Trust, investigated the
circumstances of Reece's death. During the inquest she was
asked whether or not Reece's life could have been saved if he
had been admitted to hospital instead of being sent home.
She answered: “Yes”.
Dr Adamson also said that diabetes testing was simple. She
said: “It's a matter of two very simple tests – either urine or
Mr Sharp told the inquest that over the course of a few days
from December 12, Reece had become ill.
He said: “Every time I used to come home from work he would
be waiting for me at the top of the stairs, but he wasn't.”
Mr Sharp told the inquest that he called Derbyshire Health
United, an out-of-hours medical advice service, after his son
had taken a turn for the worse one night.
The 28-year-old described his son's symptoms to the
call-handler. “I rang direct from my dad's house and they asked
to speak to whoever was with Reece at the time.
“I gave them Charlotte's number and by the time I got home
they had rung Charlotte.
“They said it sounded like a viral infection,” he said.
Lyn Charlesworth, a nurse advisor from Derbyshire Health
United, answered Mr Sharp's call after it was transferred to
her by a call-handler at the organisation.
In a statement to the court, Ms Charlesworth said that her
job was to perform a telephone assessment of symptoms by asking
a range of questions that were generated by a computer
In a transcript from the conversation between her and Miss
Smith, she described Reece's symptoms as normal. She said: “The
sort of things you are describing are all fairly normal
symptoms in babies or toddlers who have got an infection, a
The inquest heard that information that Mr Sharp had passed
on to the original call-handler was not passed on to Ms
When asked if she should have been given the information, Ms
Charlesworth said: “With hindsight, yes.”
A day after being discharged from hospital, Reece stopped
breathing while watching TV in his home in Thorndike
Miss Smith, 23, said: “I noticed that his chest wasn't
rising. I phoned the ambulance and they told me to lay him on
the floor and give him mouth-to-mouth.”
Pathologist Dr Hohammed Al-Adnani carried out Reece's
postmortem examination and told the inquest that the cause of
death was undiagnosed diabetes.
The inquest is continuing.