GPs 'could have saved ill schoolboy's life'


An ill schoolboy's life could have been saved had two doctors at his local GP intervened, a jury has heard.

Abertillery GPs Dr Lindsey Thomas, 42, and Dr Joanne Rudling, 46, are on trial at Cardiff Crown Court accused of gross negligence manslaughter.

Both defendants, who worked at Abernant Surgery, deny the charges against then.

A jury heard that 12-year-old Ryan Morse died at his home in Brynithel in 2012.

A post mortem later revealed he had Addison's Disease - a rare but treatable auto-immune condition that affects around 10 in every 100,000 people.

Prosecuting barrister John Price QC said Dr Thomas and Dr Rudling could not have been expected to diagnose the condition on their own.

However, the Crown's case is that the pair should have ensured the weak youngster was seen by a doctor at home or called for an ambulance after his mother phoned the surgery and gave details about how ill her son was.

Mr Price said: "Had a doctor....looked at Ryan they may not have worked out what the condition was.

"But they would have seen a very, very sick child who needed immediate medical attention and intervention.

"This would have therefore led to the admission of Ryan into hospital as an emergency case.

"The second option was for an ambulance to be summoned."

He added: "If they had done as they should, his life would have been saved."

The court heard that Ryan's mother Carol was first worried about her son's health in the summer holidays when he complained of a bad head, sore throat and aching legs - as well as projectile vomiting on a number of occasions.

A jury was told Mrs Morse thought her child had glandular fever and his skin was "yellowing".

Mr Price said it was initially thought Ryan had a viral infection following a visit to the doctors on July 20.

However, over the coming weeks and months the youngster would have a number of episodes of ill health - although other check ups and blood tests proved inconclusive at the time.

The youngster was later visited at home by one of his teachers because of the amount of days he had missed school.

A court heard teacher Christopher Brown described Ryan as looking "grey, gaunt and his cheeks were drawn".

And jurors were also told that Ryan's skin discolouration worsened to the point that other school-kids teased him by calling him "teabag".

However, despite Ryan's ill health, prosecutor Mr Price said it was common for delays in diagnosing Addison's Disease because of the "non specific" nature of early symptoms.

He said that it was often for the disease to be discovered when symptoms had worsened - with sufferers displaying darkened skin, low blood pressure and poor circulation.

But he added: "Even in the advanced stages of a crisis, the process of the disease can be rapidly reversed and good health restored."

The court heard Dr Rudling saw Ryan twice in November - but decided not to weigh him - putting down his thin appearance to a growth spurt.

"The Prosecution says that failing to weigh him on either occasion Dr Rudling was negligent," added Mr Price.

And on December 7, Ryan's health took a turn for the worse - suffering with diarrhoea, a high temperature and showing signs of being delirious.

The court heard that Mrs Morse phoned the GP surgery in the morning before to have a consultation over the phone with Dr Thomas.

A second phone consultation then took place with Dr Rudling later in the evening.

However, no home visit or call to paramedics was made by either doctor.

Mr Price said a simple test of Ryan's vital signs would have "identified that he was gravely ill".

He added: " The prosecution alleges that each doctor was in breach of the duty of care they owed to him as a patient.

"This failure of negligence was in the case of each doctor of a very grave and extremely serious kind."

Dr Thomas, of Tredegar, and Dr Rudling, of Cardiff, both deny gross negligence manslaughter.

Rudling has also pleaded not guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice with an entry in Ryan's medical notes.

The case, which is expected to last four weeks, continues.