Shay Turner died from ‘catastrophic’ brain injury after being misdiagnosed with diabetes and being given 10 times the necessary amount of insulin to treat the wrong illness
An autistic five-year-old boy died after doctors gave him ten times the correct dose of insulin after misdiagnosing him with diabetes, according to his parents.
Shay Turner was rushed to Rotherham General Hospital last year but died for days later when he suffered a catastrophic brain injury.
His parents, Laura, 28, and Martyn, 29, claim that doctors misdiagnosed his sepsis as diabetes so gave him a huge amount of insulin by mistake.
The couple have now launched a crowdfunding appeal to raise £12,000 to pay for solicitors to represent them at Shay’s inquest in October.
Ms Turner, an advertising executive, said: ‘There are two major failings that we need answers to – the overdose of insulin and what effect that had on him and the missed sepsis.
‘So far nobody has told us the truth and we want to know what happened to our son.
‘On Good Friday Shay was unwell – he looked tired, he kept saying he couldn’t go to the toilet, he wanted to drink but couldn’t keep any water down and kept being sick.
‘I thought he had caught a bug but by the time his dad came home from work Shay looked grey and we decided to go to A&E.’
The Turners took Shay to Rotherham General Hospital, South Yorkshire, along with his nine-year-old brother Finnley.
The five-year-old (pictured with parents Laura and Martyn Turner at their wedding) was rushed into A&E’s resuscitation bay where doctors recorded that his blood sugar levels were high and diagnosed him as diabetic even though his parents were unconvinced
Shay was rushed into A&E’s resuscitation bay where doctors recorded that his blood sugar levels were high and diagnosed him as diabetic even though Mr and Mrs Turner were unconvinced.
Ms Turner said: ‘At this point we were really concerned no-one knew what they were doing. It was obvious Shay was very unwell but it felt like sheer panic at the hospital.
‘We were really worried – no-one was telling us what was happening and Shay was in a lot of pain and discomfort.
At only 18kg, the maximum amount of insulin Shay should have been given was 1.8ml. Instead he was given 18ml for a condition he didn’t have
‘I told Martyn to take Finnley home because I knew it didn’t look good.’
Shay – who had been diagnosed with autism just before his fifth birthday – was given insulin but, for two hours, Laura says he was given ten times the standard dose.
The family have since learned insulin is measured per kilogram and should be dispensed between 0.1ml and 0.5ml per kg.
At 18kg, the maximum amount Shay should have been given was 1.8ml Instead he was given 18ml.
A paediatric consultant spoke to Shay’s mother at 11pm and said that ‘due to the laws of transparency’ told her they have given Shay the incorrect dosage.
Ms Turner, from Rawmarsh, South Yorkshire, said: ‘A paediatric consultant came to speak to me around 11pm and said “due to the laws of transparency” they had to tell me about the incorrect dosage.
‘I asked him what this meant and he said, ‘I honestly don’t know’.’
Shay began to deteriorate rapidly and eventually became unconsciousness and Laura and Martyn were put in another room.
‘It was horrendous – they weren’t telling us anything and we had a nurse keeping guard at the door,’ Laura said.
Shay needed to be moved to Sheffield Children’s Hospital who can deal with critically ill children
It was decided Shay needed to be moved to Sheffield Children’s Hospital and the Embrace team – a highly specialist transport service for critically ill children – arrived.
They worked on Shay all night to try to stabilise him so he could be transferred to Sheffield.
Ms Turner said: ‘We were told they needed to move him onto a stretcher but even though it was only centimetres, he was so poorly they didn’t know if he would make it.’
Eventually, Shay arrived at Sheffield Children’s Hospital at 8.45am on March 31 and the family met the consultant Rotherham Hospital had been liaising with throughout the night.
Shay’s stomach was incredibly swollen and the consultant said they needed to operate because his lungs and heart were being crushed.
Laura said: ‘When they opened him up, they discovered his large intestine had died. It was then the surgeon said it could have been sepsis that caused the problem.
‘As soon as they removed his intestine, his vitals improved dramatically. Even though he wasn’t conscious and was still on life support, we had some hope.’
But Shay wasn’t out of the woods and needed to stabilise so doctors could perform a CT scan to look for any brain damage.
Following the scan three days later, a consultant confirmed Shay had suffered a catastrophic brain injury and explained the kindest thing to do would be to let him go
On April 2, following the scan, the consultant confirmed Shay had suffered a catastrophic brain injury and explained the kindest thing to do would be to let him go.
Ms Turner said: ‘I was adamant that we shouldn’t, that it was the wrong thing.
‘But the consultant explained about the level of damage done and I realised it was the only thing we could do.’
Shay’s extended family came to say their goodbyes before, on April 3, his parents sat beside their ‘beautiful bright red-haired’ boy and turned the machines off.
Ms Turner said: ‘He went straight away, he didn’t have any fight left in him anymore.’
The couple have now launched a crowdfunding appeal to raise £12,000 to pay for solicitors to represent them at Shay’s inquest which will take place in October
Shay’s autopsy report said he died from multiple organ failure from an unknown cause with the possibility of Hirschsprung disease – a condition that is the result of missing nerve cells in the muscles of the colon – leading to a bowel infection and causing sepsis.
The coroner’s report concluded that Shay did not have diabetes.
South Yorkshire Police carried out a ten-month investigation into Shay’s death but Laura said no further action is being taken.
An inquest into his death is due to take place in October.
Speaking about the devastating effect Shay’s death has had on the family, Laura said: ‘We don’t know how to carry on without him. It’s destroyed our whole lives.
‘Finnley is heartbroken – he doesn’t know what to do without his little brother.
‘It’s had such a huge affect on all of us and we want somebody to be held accountable.
‘Shay was overdosed and he was misdiagnosed at Rotherham General Hospital and it terrifies me that they are still treating people.’
Martyn, who got married to Laura just over a month before Shay’s death, added: ‘If the sepsis had been picked up at the first stage, we believe Shay would still be here.
‘He’s lost his life and went through the worse pain imaginable. We’re fighting to get the truth.’
A spokesperson for Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Rotherham General Hospital, said: ‘Our thoughts and sympathies are very much with Shay’s family and our medical director has recently written to them about the serious incident investigation which we are currently undertaking.
‘Given an inquest is scheduled for the autumn, we cannot comment further at this time.’
To donate to Justice for Shay, visit: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/justice-for-shay.
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