Girl of 15 died five days after abortion at ‘ blunder’ clinic
A GIRL of 15 died five days after an abortion because of a blunder at her clinic, an inquest heard yesterday.
Alesha Thomas was supposed to have been given antibiotics to combat infection after the procedure.
But she never received the medication and was struck down by a heart attack caused by a bacterial toxin.
The sexual health organisation Marie Stopes International, which ran the clinic, was strongly criticised by the coroner for procedural failings. He warned it could face legal action.
Due to inefficient practices at the clinic it was not uncommon for patients to leave without being given their prescribed medication, the inquest heard.
Alesha was a ‘ healthy and fit adolescent’ who confided in her mother Rose Bent that she was pregnant in June 2007, Huddersfield Coroner’s Court heard. After discussing her options, they chose an abortion at the Marie Stopes International clinic in Leeds.
Two weeks later, when Alesha was just over 15 weeks into the pregnancy, the 25-minute procedure was performed successfully by gynaecologist Dr Peter Paku.
An hour and 20 minutes after the operation the doctor issued an electronic prescription for Alesha to be given the antibiotic Doxycycline to prevent infection.
But the doctor did not realise Alesha had been discharged 45 minutes after the operation and was no longer at the clinic.
The inquest heard there was no system which meant nurses would re-check a patient’s notes when they were being discharged to make sure instructions had been followed.
Dr Paku said patients leaving without their medication was a regular problem at the family planning clinic.
‘ It has happened many times. Prescriptions would be forgotten many times and we would have to make arrangements,’ he said.
Three days after the operation, Alesha’s concerned mother called the clinic’s helpline, a call centre based in Manchester, and told a nurse that her daughter was suffering stomach cramps and heavy bleeding.
The nurse advised she daughter Ibuprofen.
She spoke to a nurse at the clinic again, who said her daughter’s tests for the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia had come back positive.
The nurse advised her to ring her GP for antibiotics.
It does not appear that any of the nurses ever referred to Alesha’s online notes – which would have highlighted the earlier failure to take antibiotics. Five days after the abortion Alesha, from Huddersfield,
her became extremely ill. She could not move her legs, had glazed eyes and was unresponsive.
She was taken to hospital but had a heart attack on the way to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary on July 11.
The bacterial infection toxic shock syndrome was responsible for the heart attack, the inquest was told.
Recording a narrative verdict Coroner Roger Whittaker said if she had taken the drugs prescribed to her ‘the balance of probability suggests she would have been more able to survive than die’.
The coroner told the court he would be writing to Marie Stopes International in the hope it might develop better systems to prevent patients leaving without their medication.
A spokesman for Marie Stopes International said its staff were ‘deeply saddened’ by Alesha’s death.
‘ We will look closely at the coroner’s comments and take further steps, as appropriate, to address any areas of concern that have been identified,’ the spokesman added.
c. brooke@ dailymail. co. uk