Parents' anger at doctor's error

12:00pm Friday 15th August 2014

By Helen Morton

NEW parents were left terrified after being told their six-week-old son could need an emergency CAT scan to check for fluid on his brain – only to discover just hours later that the doctor had made a mistake.

When Victoria Scott took her son Dexter Bale for a check-up at Gillies Health Centre on Friday, June 27, she was expecting to simply have him weighed and measured.

But the 28-year-old said she was left distraught when she was told her son’s head was too large and required a CAT scan to check for fluid on the brain.

The English teacher was told that Dexter’s head had grown at a worrying rate – from 36cm to 41cm.

The distress for the first-time mum was compounded when she was quizzed by the doctor about whether her family had a history of large heads – something she wasn’t able to answer.

She said: “It was very difficult on that day – words like ‘CAT scan’ and ‘fluid on the brain’ are very frightening.”

She immediately called her fiancé, Luke Bale, and gave him the news, but when they spoke to the doctor again, around three hours later, they were told there was no need for a scan and that Dexter’s head size was within the normal range.

Luke, 28, who works in sales, said: “I was really angry that we had been given a scare for no reason, I don’t understand how you can just throw out a diagnosis like that.”

After Luke made a complaint the couple, of Quilter Road, Brighton Hill, were invited into the surgery in Sullivan Road that evening with Dexter.

They saw a more senior doctor, who reassured them that their son did not need a CAT scan.

Victoria said: “It is a big relief that everything looks okay but it was a horrible thing to have to go through, especially when you’re first-time parents.”

Practice manager Desmond McCarthy told The Gazette that the doctor could have been “overly cautious” in his first assessment.

He said: “Obviously hearing the words CAT scan can be very frightening and it is understandable that the parents were worried.

“The doctor did say that a CAT scan could be needed but went away and checked.

“He later contacted the parents to say it was not necessary.”

He added: “We (as doctors) have to try and express ourselves better.”

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