The Grapevine

British Triathlete Ellie Penrose Dies Of Bacterial Meningitis After Being Misdiagnosed: Report

Penrose
Ellie Penrose was a triathlete for Great Britian when she died. Facebook

British triathlete Ellie Penrose died from meningitis after a junior doctor incorrectly diagnosed her condition, reports The Guardian.

The 18-year-old’s death garnered a recent inquest, during which it was stated the woman was “inappropriately discharged” from Hull Royal Infirmary in Yorkshire, Britain. Penrose was initially taken to the hospital when she complained of pins and needles in her back, neck, and face. She was seen by Don Hettiarachchi, who was in his first week at A & E at the hospital. He diagnosed Penrose with dehydration and gastroenteritis, discharging her with painkillers, The Guardian reported.

Later in the day, her parents discovered her critically ill in her bed at home. Penrose was brought back to the hospital at 11:30 am, but was not administered antibiotics until 1 pm — around the same time she underwent a scan that revealed her body was shutting down. She died the very same day from “overwhelming sepsis” caused by meningococcal septicaemia. At the inquest, Hettarachchi stated that he was “not 100 percent sure” of the cause of the girl’s symptoms when he examined her, and when asked if he considered meningitis, responded that he did.

“When I examined her there was no rash,” Hettarachchi told the inquest. “There was blotching on her face. I felt it was more viral.”

Dr. Mark Simpson, clinical director for emergency medicine at Hull and east Yorkshire hospitals NHS trust, wrote an incident report after Penrose’s death, saying there had been a “failure in care.” He criticized the errors made by junior doctors and the delay in administering antibiotics. Simpson wrote Penrose would have had the best chance of survival if antibiotics had been administered the first time she went to the hospital, but he couldn’t determine if she would have, in fact, lived.

The coroner adjourned the hearing, citing the need for an expert to assess if Penrose would have survived had she been given antibiotics immediately. Chief medical officer at the trust, Kevin Phillips, said there would be no comment until a verdict was reached.

“It is clear, however, that this is a very tragic case,” he said. “Our thoughts are with her family at this difficult time, and we are very sorry for their loss.”

Penrose had learned she had earned a place at the University of York to study math only an hour before she died. Her family has set up a charity to honor her, known as the Ellie Penrose Fund.

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