Ipswich/Felixstowe: Lessons learnt from tragic death of Felixstowe baby Isabel King

Isabel King

Isabel King - Credit: Archant

The death of a one-month-old baby prompted Ipswich Hospital to review the way it manages young children with heart conditions, an inquest has heard.

Tom and Vikky King’s daughter Isabel was born with a serious and rare heart condition which required her to have an operation when she was just a few days old.

After returning to their home in Felixstowe, Isabel was taken to Ipswich Hospital several times after her lips turned blue and she became clammy, often after feeding.

While their daughter was in hospital Mr and Mrs King believed the staff caring for her would communicate with the Evelina London Children’s Hospital (ELCH) where Isabel had undergone the first of several operations to correct her heart condition.

But during the inquest, evidence was given by several witnesses that not only had there been a breakdown in communication within Ipswich Hospital, but because of this information was not passed to specialists at ELCH.

One concern Mr and Mrs King had in particular was the nurses at Ipswich Hospital not appreciating the significance of high levels of oxygen in Isabel’s blood.

Giving evidence herself, Mrs King said: “The Evelina London Children’s Hospital made it very clear the things that needed to be monitored most were her oxygen saturation and her weight gain.”

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But despite informing staff at Ipswich Hospital of this several times when Isabel’s oxygen levels became to high ELCH were not told despite requests to do so.

Dr Aaron Bell, a paediatric cardiologist at ELCH, said had he been told about this he “would have sent out the retrieval team” to bring Isabel back to London.

Since Isabel’s death Ipswich Hospital has created new guidelines about when to contact other hospitals who share the duty of care for a child.

Recording a narrative verdict Senior Coroner for Suffolk Dr Peter Dean said: “Isabel died from complications following a pre-existing surgically operated cardiac abnormality.”