Did NHS fail teenager Bruno?

Parents demand answers after review of tests reveal undiagnosed medical condition.

DID medical experts fail to spot a condition which went on to kill a Honiton teenager? That is what his parents want to know following an inquest into the 17-year-old’s death .

Bruno Eduardo Fernandes died at his home at The Heathfield Inn on March 8 and a verdict of natural death was recorded at an inquest held last Thursday.

The deputy coroner for Exeter and Greater Devon, Darren Salter, said: “The medical cause was sudden adult death syndrome and the verdict is one of natural causes.”

The inquest heard that Bruno had suffered from a history of blackouts, one of which had occurred in September 2004.

In 2010, Bruno had ECG tests carried out on his heart at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital which appeared to be normal.

On the weekend of March 5 the Exeter College student attended Honiton Community Hospital complaining of painful lungs and had difficulty breathing in and out. He was advised to see his GP and had arranged an appointment but, unfortunately, died before he could attend.

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A review was carried out on Bruno’s ECG which found that he had Long QT Syndrome, which is a disorder of the heart’s electrical activity.

The coroner added: “The ECGs carried out on Bruno did contain evidence of what is referred to as Long QT Syndrome, which was not recognised at the time. It seems likely that death was caused by an arrhythmia as a result of this Long QT Syndrome. Still the cause of death is Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.

“This does not alter my opinion that the cause of death was due to natural causes.”

During the inquest, Bruno’s father, Carlos, said: “Everybody missed it until now.”

The coroner added: “It is my understanding that there was nothing to be seen on the tests.”

However, the Fernandes family is to make a formal complaint to the NHS.

After the inquest Carlos said: “What we didn’t know at the time was that Bruno had a Long QT. He also used to have blackouts. These things have been missed when he had all the tests. There were so many failures before Bruno died.”

Since Bruno’s death, the family have had to undergo tests to find out whether they have a similar condition.

His mother, Julie, said: “You can’t describe what you feel, but I do feel angry. It was a mistake, which had a big price to pay.

“Everybody said things were normal and that there was nothing wrong.

“At the end of the day, accidents happen but if someone had looked at the test results properly maybe Bruno would still be alive today.”

Director of Nursing and Patient Care at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital Em Wilkinson-Brice said: “We understand that parents and families need as much information and explanation as possible about what has happened when a child has died. Inquest hearings determine the cause of death and we automatically review the circumstances involving any death of a child or young person to see whether there are lessons we can learn for the future.

“We will share with Mr and Mrs Fernandes the findings of our review and endeavour to answer any points or concerns they may have.”