Investigations have found that more than a million young people could be at risk from a deadly strain of meningitis due to an NHS IT error.
A system designed to alert GPs when a patient should be invited for a vaccination was introduced to help with the distribution of the vaccine, but it was not switched on for several years.
Research shows that the software was installed into GPs’ systems at a default “inactive” setting.
The error was identified after the unfortunate death of 21-year-old Tim Mason. During several visits to the GP, an alert system should have been activated showing that Mr Mason was eligible for the vaccine, but the software was not working.
The 21-year-old began to feel unwell and days later told his mum he felt as though he was dying during a hospital visit. He was discharged by doctors at the hospital with a wrongly diagnosed upper respiratory tract infection.
Mason had actually contracted a deadly strain of meningitis, which can lead to sepsis and ultimately be fatal. Within hours he collapsed and was rushed to the emergency department by his parents. Moments later he suffered a fatal cardiac arrest and could not be resuscitated.
Meningitis is a serious infection of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.
Although it can affect anyone, it is most common in babies, children, and young adults.
Viral meningitis will usually get better on its own and rarely causes any long-term problems.
Most people with bacterial meningitis who are treated quickly also make a full recovery, but some may be left with serious long-term problems.
NHS Digital said the EMIS alert was enabled for GP Practices at the beginning of April this year. Latest figures show that tens of thousands of university students and school leavers are still missing out on the vaccine.
At Pryers, we support any technology that can improve early detection of viruses and diseases, unfortunately this tragic incident demonstrates how important the implementation and application of these improvements are.
If you or someone you know has concerns over how your care has been handled or fear you may have been mis-diagnosed, speak to our team to see how we can help on 01904 55 66 00, or get in touch today.