Coco Bradford went to the hospital for dehydration. A week later, she was dead. Now, her family is facing the fact that the 6-year-old’s death was due to a series of medical mistakes.
As Fox News reports, the autistic girl from St. Ives, Cornwall had already overcome many challenges in her short life. Her mother, Rachel, says that at the time of her death, she was in a mainstream school and loved the beach, swimming, music, and learning.
According to The Guardian, on July 22, 2017, Coco’s family noticed the young girl was ill and eating poorly. When Coco got worse over the next two days with vomiting and diarrhea, her family called an ambulance.
On July 25, Coco was taken to Royal Cornwall Hospital. Her symptoms included vomiting, bloody stool, and the inability to tolerate fluids. However, doctors sent Coco home again.
The next day, July 26, Coco’s family brought her back to the hospital. When the young girl arrived at the emergency room, she was clinically dehydrated and in shock. As an investigation would later determine, Coco’s condition was not recognized when she arrived at the hospital, nor was it treated appropriately when she was transferred to the pediatric ward.
In fact, no one took Coco’s blood pressure for the first 36 hours she spent at the hospital. While at Royal Cornwall, Coco contracted sepsis, but even after warning signs appeared, doctors delayed giving her antibiotics.
On July 28, Coco was transferred to Bristol Children’s Hospital. Though doctors at Royal Cornwall had assured Coco’s family just days before that the girl was, “fine,” Coco died on July 31.
According to ITV News, an independent investigation found that Royal Cornwall hospital was responsible for a “string of failures,” that led to Coco’s death. Hospital administrators have admitted they were at fault and that Coco’s death could have been averted.
The report on the hospital’s errors stated that inadequate staffing and resources contributed to the problem compounded by a lack of, “compassion and sensitivity,” in how staff dealt with Coco’s family.
In response to the report, Rachel Bradford, Coco’s mother, recalled how the family was ignored by hospital staff:
“We questioned their actions constantly, begged for pain relief for Coco and Chelsea [Coco’s sister who has worked in medicine] questioned them directly by phone. They treated us with indignance and arrogance and told us they were not worried about Coco and she was fine, but actually she wasn’t. She was dying in front of our eyes.”
Rachel added that the hospital staff blamed Coco’s autism for treatment issues when that was not the case:
“To then, later, find out that they blamed Coco, her autism and from being uncooperative and non-compliant to excuse their own incompetence is unforgivable. For the record Coco was neither uncooperative or non-compliant. I am extremely angry regarding the questionable honesty of some clinicians and their failure to recall information even though it was documented.”
For the family, it was heartbreaking to know that Coco had entered the hospital with a very treatable condition, only to die from an infection contracted there. Rachel said:
“It is very [hard] to live with, especially when you know all that Coco needed was rehydration, a simple course of intravenous fluids. That’s it, no miracle drug, no specialist treatment. The failure of treating the initial infection led to Coco contracting sepsis.”
The hospital has apologized for what happened and says they will work with the family to understand what happened and ensure it doesn’t happen again. However, it may be some time before the staff responsible is forgiven. Rachel said that she doesn’t just want them to learn from what happened, she wants them to be held accountable:
“I cannot and will not ever forgive those individuals we hold responsible for Coco’s death. They know who they are and they should be utterly ashamed of themselves.”
Coco’s family stressed to hospital representatives how much her death had affected them and how betrayed they felt after putting faith in their doctors. Rachel told them:
“I will be forever thankful that I told Coco I loved her at least 10 times every single day and that the last words I ever heard Coco say on Thursday night, the 27 July were: ‘I love you.'”