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Worthing teen died after doctors did not check for tumour, inquest hears
A teenage girl whose brain tumour was missed by doctors was “highly likely” to have survived if she’d had a scan just hours before her death.
Lucy Goulding, 16, complained of chronic headaches, vomiting and dizziness for weeks – but “no one believed” her, an inquest into her death heard yesterday.
Despite several visits to her GP and admission to A&E, doctors thought she had a stress-related psychological condition.
Moments before she fell into a coma, the straight-A student told her mother she could no longer cope with the pain and wanted to die.
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Lucy, of Ringmer Road, Worthing, had just taken her GCSEs – but she did not live to learn she got straight As.
She died the day before she was due to be prom queen at Chatsmore Catholic High School’s graduation ball.
Described as a “delightful and much-loved” girl, Lucy developed headaches in May this year while revising for her exams.
She visited GP Dr Jaspal Mihal on four occasions but her symptoms were not fully explored, the coroner said.
On her fourth GP visit, Lucy’s mother Antonella asked the doctor to conduct a CT scan but was told there was “no evidence of a tumour”.
After deteriorating further the following the day, Lucy was taken to A&E.
But medics at Worthing Hospital wanted to discharge Lucy to community and mental health services (CAMS), believing her condition was related to stress or a bulimic episode the year before.
Mrs Goulding persuaded doctors to admit her seriously-ill daughter but no neurological tests were carried out.
At the inquest Dr Mwape Kabole, consultant at Worthing A&E, apologised to the Goulding family and admitted Lucy’s assessment was incomplete and that she should have had a CT scan.
At about 3am Lucy told her mother: “I can’t cope with this any more. I just want to die.”
She closed her eyes, collapsed into a coma and stopped breathing.
Lucy was resuscitated and put into intensive care but was assessed as brain dead by the time she arrived at Southampton Hospital’s neurological unit.
Specialist surgeons tried to drain fluid on her brain and remove the tumour but were unsuccessful.
Her life support was turned off on the morning of June 28 and she died shortly afterwards.
Paediatric neurosurgeon Aarbir Chakroborty said the tumour was exceptionally rare. But he said Lucy’s outlook would have been “very different” if it had been diagnosed.
Recording a narrative verdict, assistant coroner Karen Henderson said: “Lucy’s symptoms were not taken with sufficient seriousness and neither were Mrs Goulding’s anxieties.
“Little consideration was given and no action was taken to Lucy’s worsening condition.
“What’s striking is that no one believed Lucy Goulding and Antonella Goulding at any time upon her admission to the point of her collapse. Minds were closed to anything else but psychological cause of symptoms.”
The coroner said if Lucy had been treated in time it was “highly likely she would have been cured”.
Ms Henderson will write a prevention of future death report.
Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust accepted failings after reviewing Lucy’s case.
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