NICOLA ADCOCK’S world began to fall apart just after 10am on a cold February morning.
Frantic with worry about her poorly six-year-old son Jack, she arrived at hospital with him after a night of vomiting and diarrhoea. He was limp, feverish and lethargic.
The young doctor in charge of the children’s unit diagnosed a stomach bug and dehydration then ordered more tests.
At 9.20pm Jack died from sepsis — a complication of infection, leading to multiple organ failure — which had been missed in the morning assessment.
A court later heard that “any competent junior doctor” would have made a correct diagnosis after an inquiry totted up 21 clinical mistakes made in his case.
Yet now, almost seven years after the tragedy at Leicester Royal Infirmary, Nicola is the victim of a social media trolling campaign and is being branded a racist after she successfully campaigned for Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba to be struck off the medical register for life — meaning she could no longer practise in the UK as a doctor.
More hurtful still is that the medical profession is rallying behind Dr Bawa-Garba, raising £320,000 in crowdfunding to launch a legal challenge against her ban.
Speaking to The Sun, Nicola said: “Put it this way, if you took your child into hospital tomorrow and Dr Bawa-Garba wanted to treat them, would you let it happen? I’m damn sure you wouldn’t.
“Given the right treatment that day, our gorgeous little man would still have been here.
“How would these people abusing me feel if their son dropped dead because of gross negligence?
Catalogue of failures
- Given wrong drugs
- Deadly infection missed
- Blood tests delay
- Nurse’s lack of care
- ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ error
- Doc’s double workload
“They would get the same gut- wrenching feeling I get, and they would fight like I’d fought.
“All these doctors jumping on the bandwagon to clear her are just doing it to protect themselves.”
Nicola, whose grandfather is black, added: “I’ve had messages telling me I’m racist and that I killed my son.
“They think this has happened to her just because she’s black, but a nurse that faced the same charges and was struck off was white — so their argument is nonsense.”
Given the details of the errors made, it is easy to understand the rage of Nicola, 44, a teaching assistant whose husband Victor works for a water company.
Dr Bawa-Garba, 40, ordered blood tests for Jack, who had Down’s syndrome and who had been treated as a baby for a bowel abnormality and a hole in the heart.
But she took several hours to review the results, which would otherwise have steered her much sooner to the conclusion that it was sepsis rather than a stomach bug.
Jack was on a prescription for the drug enalapril for his heart condition.
Yet it reverses the body’s defence to sepsis and he should not have been given it.
The court heard Dr Bawa-Garba failed to write up his notes properly.
At around 8pm he suffered septic shock, leading to a “crash call” emergency, but Dr Bawa-Garba momentarily told medics to stop trying to save him after mistaking Nicola for the mother of another
child who had “Do not resuscitate” on his medical notes.
However, there is no doubt Dr Bawa-Garba was operating under extremely difficult circumstances.
She was doing two doctors’ work that day due to a colleague’s absence.
She was still in training and it was her first placement in general paediatrics.
An IT failure meant the results of the blood tests she ordered at 10.45am did not arrive until 4.45pm.
There was a shortage of nurses, leading to a greater reliance on agency staff, including nurse Isabel Amaro, who did much of Jack’s supervision.
She failed to observe him properly, a court heard, or tell the doctor about his deterioration.
Dr Bawa-Garba had many other patients to treat in the children’s assessment unit that day, and the Do Not Resuscitate blunder was made near the end of a 13-hour double shift during which she had no break.
The fallout was ruinous for the medic, who came to Britain from Nigeria as a teenager in 1994.
She was allowed to continue working until November 2015, when she was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence at Nottingham Crown Court and sentenced to two years’ jail, suspended for two years.
Portuguese-born nurse Amaro was also found guilty, given the same sentence and banned from practice for life by the profession’s governing body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
But Dr Bawa-Garba was suspended for just 12 months by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service last June.
The General Medical Council, which oversees the register of medical practitioners, appealed the MPTS decision and called for her “erasure from the medical register”.
A High Court ruling on January 25 agreed, and the doctor’s ban was upheld.
But three junior doctors swiftly launched the campaign to raise £200,000 for legal costs to appeal her case.
One, Dr Chris Day, says criminalising a doctor for a medical error sets a “dangerous precedent” and may lead to cover-ups as other medics will not admit to mistakes.
But Nicola, of Glen Parva, Leics, — also mum to Ruby, ten — said: “Living without Jack is horrendous, like my heart has been ripped out.
“None of the doctors campaigning for Bawa-Garba was at the inquest and none of them sat through the four-week trial.
“If any of them think it’s acceptable that she made 21-plus mistakes that day, they need to consider a new career.”