Doctors missed 11 chances to treat a young chess champion who died days after he was discharged from hospital against his parents’ wishes following an asthma attack, an inquest has heard.
Nine-year-old Michael Uriely, died in August 2015 – just six days after he had been discharged from the Royal Free Hospital after he suffered violent coughing and vomiting fits.
Westminster Coroners Court heard the Westminster Under School pupil was diagnosed with asthma in 2008 when he was two years old.
He took part in many sports, was captain of the school football team and had been crowned National Chess Champion for his age.
In January 2015 he spent three days at the Royal Free after his asthma deteriorated and his attacks became more frequent.
His parents were promised an outpatient appointment with the asthma clinic – but a referral letter never arrived and he saw different doctors 10 more times before his death in August.
Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe took Michael Uriely’s mother Ayelet, 52, through her witness statement and the contact her son had with clinicians.
Referring to the statement, the coroner said: “There were 11 opportunities within the seven months to appropriately test, diagnose and treat him.
“You felt he was left untreated. You felt strongly he was denied basic care.”
In her statement she was still “devastated beyond words over his unexpected and tragic loss” and that he was a “gifted and wonderful son”.
Back in January 2015, doctors told Michael he would be referred to the asthma outpatient clinic at the hospital in four to six weeks time.
Going through her statement, Mrs Uriely told the inquest between January to the date of his death he had been seen by NHS doctors, in private consultation and GP appointments.
The outpatient clinic referral never came despite repeated requests by his mother to several doctors in the months before his death.
His condition got worse with more frequent attacks, which lasted longer periods and included severe coughing fits.
His mother also requested a referral to Great Ormand Street Hospital but was told it wasn’t possible.
Mrs Uriely said: “I thought they would be able to use a number of paths to explore what was going on and why there had been a deterioration.”
As early as February in a consultation with a private paediatrician, Dr Michael Greenberg, she said he feared for her son’s life.
The mother said: “I asked my husband to taker Michael out of the room and I asked him what is the likelihood of death and he said ‘what are you talking about? He is not in this category’ .
“But I was very concerned there was a deterioration.”
He saw GPs, both NHS and private, over the coming months as his condition began to worsen, and on the August 18 she took him to A&E at the Royal Free.
At the hospital she requested to see a respiratory specialist but said she was refused by the on-call consultant, and was told her son had only a “viral cough”.
She said: “He (the consultant) said ‘look you don’t need to be here you should go home’. I said to him ‘I am not going without you doing some tests.'”
An X-ray was carried out and was told there was nothing wrong with her son and was discharged at 8pm.
However Michael’s coughing and breathing got worse and his mother took him back in just hours later at 3.30am the following morning.
His chest was bulging up to his neck an she described him as looking like a “ghoul”.
Michael stayed overnight and deteriorated further and suffered 11 coughing fits followed by severe vomiting.
Mrs Uriely said her son became “tearful and depressed” but doctors said he was “being hysterical and was not having an asthma attack”.
The family were told they would be discharged in the afternoon, but his mother told them: “I am scared my son will die tonight.”
She added: “At the hospital that evening he said to me ‘Mummy, why don’t they believe me or believe you. I’m afraid I’m going to die.’
“I didn’t recognise my own boy. I said ‘Your mother is here. I will not let anything happen to you.'”
They were discharged at 1pm on August 20, and told by a doctor there was nothing to worry about, and they were on a “wild goose chase”.
Mrs Uriely said: “I begged the hospital not to discharge him.”
The next day, still suffering from severe coughing fits, she booked her son into an emergency appointment with a GP Dr Aisha Laskor on the Friday the 21st.
The inquest heard Dr Laskor was “shocked” he had been discharged by the hospital but after treatment Michael began to look better.
However Mr Uriely disagreed and said if she had been concerned why had she not sent him back to hospital.
The coroner said: “Your recollection is completely different.”
Mother and son went back to their St John’s Wood home but there was no improvement over the weekend and in the early hours of August 25 his father woke him to take a dose of medication.
After short amount time his asked his wife to check on him and she found Michael unresponsive having collapsed.
They tried to resuscitate him and called an ambulance. He was taken to St Mary’s hospital but he later died and was pronounced dead at 3.44am.
The inquest continues.