A schoolgirl who was described as ‘wise beyond her years’ died of meningitis shortly after being sent home by her GP and advised to take paracetamol, according to an inquest. Isabel Connolly-Wellock, 16, was initially believed to be suffering from anxiety due to the stress of preparing for her GCSEs. She visited her local surgery twice, complaining of a persistent headache. However, despite exhibiting symptoms such as a stiff neck and a droopy eye, which are potential signs of meningitis, she was told to take painkillers and a nasal spray for a suspected cold. Later that day, her temperature continued to rise, and her mother was advised to take her to the hospital. Isabel collapsed within minutes of arriving at Royal Blackburn Hospital and passed away shortly after midnight.
Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes surrounding and protecting the brain and spinal cord. It can affect anyone, but those at higher risk include individuals under the age of five, between 15 and 24, and over 45. People who are exposed to passive smoking or have weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy, are also more susceptible. The most common forms of meningitis are bacterial and viral. Symptoms for both types include pale, blotchy skin with a rash that does not fade when pressed with a glass, a stiff neck, sensitivity to bright lights, fever, and cold hands and feet.Isabel, a student at All Saints’ Roman Catholic School in Rawtenstall, Lancashire, died from bacterial meningitis. Despite efforts to save her, her organs began to shut down and she had two cardiac arrests. She died shortly after midnight, with a critical care consultant stating that he had never seen anyone deteriorate so quickly. An inquest was held to investigate why the GP surgery failed to diagnose her condition. However, after hearing from doctors, the coroner concluded that there were no lapses in her care and recorded a conclusion that Isabel died of natural causes.
Isabel first developed a severe headache on March 27 and visited Waterfoot Medical Practice the following day. Her abnormal heart rate was attributed to exam stress and a previous cold. Two days later, she returned with symptoms including a stiff neck. Dr. Priya Narayan examined her but found no signs of meningitis. Isabel’s temperature, pulse, and oxygen levels were normal, and she had no sensitivity to light. Dr. Narayan attributed the stiffness to sleeping in a funny position and prescribed paracetamol and a nasal spray for the headache. Isabel did not complain of a droopy eye, vomiting, or fever.
Bacterial meningitis requires urgent treatment with antibiotics at the hospital. Approximately 10% of bacterial cases are fatal, and survivors may experience complications such as brain damage, hearing loss, or limb amputation if septicaemia occurs. Vaccines are available for certain strains of bacteria that cause meningitis. On the other hand, viral meningitis is rarely life-threatening but can cause long-lasting effects such as headaches, fatigue, and memory problems. Treatment for viral meningitis focuses on hydration, painkillers, and rest. Antibiotics may be given as a precautionary measure, although they are ineffective against viral meningitis.
In the UK, thousands of people suffer from viral meningitis each year. While it is not usually life-threatening, it can have lasting effects.Isabel Yeo, a 16-year-old girl from the UK, tragically died from streptococcal meningitis after collapsing at the hospital. The day before her death, Isabel had visited her GP, Dr. Narayan, complaining of a headache and a high temperature. Dr. Narayan diagnosed her with a viral infection and advised her to rest and take paracetamol. Isabel’s mother called the surgery later that day to report that her daughter’s temperature had risen to over 40C (104F). Concerned about the possibility of sepsis, Dr. Narayan instructed them to take Isabel to the hospital immediately. When questioned about not calling an ambulance, Dr. Narayan explained that in her experience, it would be faster for the family to drive her there. Reflecting on the situation, Dr. Narayan admitted to questioning herself every day if she could have done anything differently, but Isabel did not display the typical symptoms of meningitis. The inquest revealed that Isabel collapsed within five minutes of arriving at the hospital and despite receiving antibiotics for sepsis and meningitis, she passed away shortly after midnight on March 31. Dr. Richard Benson, who attended the hearing, described Isabel’s case as highly unusual and stated that he had never seen anyone deteriorate so rapidly. The medical cause of Isabel’s death was determined to be streptococcal meningitis. Isabel’s mother, Ms. Bisset, expressed that based on the evidence, nothing could have changed the outcome. Following Isabel’s death, her friends raised over £2,000 for the UK Sepsis Trust, describing her as a popular and caring individual who will be greatly missed by her teachers and fellow pupils.
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