In a tragic mistake, the young life of John Mealey, 23, was taken after doctors mistook his rare brain infection for a simple// hangover.
Describing as “.... bitterly ironic this should happen at a centre for excellence for this very type of condition”, John’s father who goes by the same name, was unbridled in his anger and grief.
An inquest at Liverpool coroners court heard that John Mealey was admitted to Aintree Hospitals NHS Trust - a specialist neurological centre in Liverpool, on the eighteenth of November, for what was mistook as a serious case of hangover.
Doctors had probably come to this conclusion as Mealey has partied hard the last night and suffered fever, aches, pains, vomiting strong headaches, and then a seizure the following day, after which he was admitted to hospital.
Over the next three days, he was seen by 10 doctors and put on a ward for alcohol-related complaints.
Mealey continued to suffer these symptoms and sadly only when the young man suffered serious seizures and fits, did the doctors call for CT brain scans and tests. By then it was too late. Scans revealed that Mealey was suffering from the rare brain-attacking virus herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE) which affects just one in 500,000 people.
After the fits his condition slowly deteriorated and he was declared brain-dead, just ten days after being admitted.
The court was told the right drugs administered when Mealey was admitted would have given him a 70-80 percent survival chance.
Doctor Peter Williams, consultant physician at the Royal Liverpool hospital, said the signs pointed to HSE and the hospital should have been prepared for the worst-case scenario. He added that in his view, the CT scan and brain tests should have been among the first lines of diagnosis, not the last.
The hospital has released a statement expressing regret for Mealey's death and saying that steps had been taken to reduce
the risk of a similar tragedy happening again.
"The trust sincerely regrets that there was a delay in commencing the appropriate treatment for Mealey’s quite rare condition," the spokesman said.
"Steps have been taken to ensure that clinical staff learn from this case to reduce the risk of a recurrence.
"The trust wishes to extend its condolences to Mr Mealey's family."
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