An inquest into the death of four-year-old Sean Turner, who died at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children in 2012, has begun. Sean Turner was born with heart problems that should have been rectified when he went into surgery at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, but what should have been the start of the rest of his life quickly turned to disaster when he suffered a cardiac arrest and later a brain haemorrhage.
Accounts from his mother and father suggest that it was neglect that led to the boy’s death as “nobody would listen” when they asked for help. He was reportedly moved from intensive care to a ward far too soon and became so dehydrated and neglected, “he was taking the tissues used to cool his head and sucking the fluid from them”.
Despite their praise for the care Sean received from the nurses in the paediatric intensive care unit, the care he received on the ward wasn’t up to standard:
“As far as I am aware the nurses on the paediatric intensive care unit cared for Sean in a very high standard at times, unlike the care he received on Ward 32, where the nurses were just not around.”
Doctors informed his parents that Sean would be in intensive care for around five days after his operation. However, he was there for little more than 18 hours as, his parents were told, the bed was needed.
After a collapse and loss of fluid from his chest, Sean was moved back to intensive care where he continued to make progress over a period of 11 days. However, he was then moved back to ward 32 where he deteriorated quickly.
On the ward, which was described as busy and chaotic, Sean’s parents were taught, by nurses, how to silence alarms that sounded to monitor Sean’s condition.
On February 16th 2012, Sean Turner suffered a heart attack: “I shouted at the lady doctor that something was wrong but she just stood frozen to the spot, staring at us”, is how Steve Turner, Sean’s father, describes the moment his son went into cardiac arrest in his arms.
Further surgery was performed on Sean to remove fluid from around his heart and lungs and on 5thMarch he was taken to surgery again where he suffered a huge bleed on his brain and died only hours after.