An inquest has found that a catalogue of errors led to Sebastian Hibberd’s death, which was “totally avoidable”. Sebastian died from intussusception, when one part of the bowel telescopes into the next, at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth on 12 October 2015.
Sebastian became unwell on Saturday 10 October 2015 and his parents called their GP surgery and the NHS helpline 111 multiple times on Monday 12 October detailing their son’s symptoms. It was only when Sebastian’s father said that his son’s vomit had turned green that the severity of the situation was noticed. An ambulance was sent but Sebastian passed away less than half an hour after arriving at hospital.
The inquest found that the NHS 111 had failed to recognise the symptoms being explained by Sebastian’s father and no action had been taken. Recording a narrative conclusion Senior Coroner Ian Arrow said: “On the balance of probability therefore there were several missed opportunities for him to receive life-saving treatment.
“In particular it is more likely than not, had his condition been recognised and he had received treatment at 8.44, his life might have been preserved. By the time the seriousness of his condition was recognised at 13.54 it was less likely that his life could be preserved.”
A series of improvements have been made since Sebastian’s death but the coroner said he is considering whether further action is needed to prevent future deaths.
Sebastian’s parents Russell and Nataliya said “No words can properly describe the devastation that we all feel at the loss of Sebastian from our lives. He was quite simply the funniest, bravest, most adventurous and smartest of children and we will all miss the laughter and joy he brought to every single day. Sebastian had a love of life and the thought that we will never hear his cheeky giggle again breaks our hearts. He had endless enthusiasm for dinosaurs, playing outdoors, wildlife and drawing. But what we will always remember most is his kind, gentle and nurturing nature to everybody and everything he met, both humans and animals alike.
“Sebastian’s siblings have lost their best friend and a wonderful brother who is missed at family mealtimes where his chair remains empty; him riding alongside us on family bike rides; and when choosing bedtime stories.
“What is most tragic and inexplicable in all of this is that Sebastian’s passing was totally avoidable. To have found out the catalogue of errors that led to his death has deeply shocked and angered us. It was only because we approached the coroner in 2016 that we had an inquest at all.”
James Robottom represented Sebastian’s family at the inquest and was instructed by Dawn Treloar of Hodge Jones and Allen Solicitors.