Girl, 10, died after doctors failed to treat cancerous lump

10-year-old girl died after doctors failed to diagnose and treat a cancerous lump and ‘misinterpreted’ MRI and ultrasound scans for more than a year until her death, inquest rules

  • Rosie Anne Brindley had a lump in her neck but tests failed to establish cancer
  • Cancer attacked her immune system, leaving her powerless against septicaemia
  • Coroner at the inquest in Loughborough urged the hospital to hold an inquiry

Rosie Anne Brindley developed a lump in her neck in early 2015, but medical tests failed to establish that she was suffering from Hodgkin lymphoma

Doctors missed a series of chances to diagnose and treat the cancer which led to the death a ‘happy and loving’ 10-year-old girl, an inquest has ruled. 

Rosie Anne Brindley saw a number of GPs and specialists after she developed a lump in her neck in early 2015.

She died in July the following year after medical tests failed to establish that she was suffering from Hodgkin lymphoma. 

The undiagnosed cancer attacked Rosie’s immune system, leaving her powerless against the infection septicaemia, which killed her, a coroner said at the conclusion of a four-day inquest.

The coroner at the hearing, in Rosie’s home town of Loughborough, Leicestershire, urged the hospital responsible to hold an inquiry into her tragic death.

A series of medical teams examined the lump on Rosie’s neck but a biopsy was not taken and MRI and ultrasound scans were ‘misinterpreted’.

On the day before her death, in July 2016, Rosie went home from school feeling unwell.

Her father found her unconscious the next morning.

She was pronounced dead at home a short time later after efforts to resuscitate her proved fruitless.

Assistant coroner Tanyka Rawden said it was ‘unlikely’ Rosie would have died if her treatment had been different.

The girl’s parents, Stefan Brindley and Samantha Rowley-Hill, said they hoped her legacy would be the prevention of further deaths.

Samantha, 42, said: ‘Rosie was a very happy and loving little girl.

‘We moved to Loughborough from Thurmaston four years ago and didn’t know a single person.

‘Within a week of moving into our house, Rosie got to know people, including some of the older people who live close by. Before we knew it, we would be walking down the street and someone would say ‘you’re Rosie’s parents aren’t you?’.


The undiagnosed cancer attacked Rosie’s immune system, leaving her powerless against the infection septicaemia, which killed her, a coroner said at the conclusion of a four-day inquest in Loughborough, Leicestershire

‘Even though we told her not to talk to strangers, there was something in her nature that made her want to meet people.

‘She had a big heart and we miss her every day.

Stefan, 41, said: ‘Rosie always wanted to help people. She always put others before herself and she never let her illness stop her.

‘She was always so brave.’ Ms Rawden said it was ‘more likely than not’ Rosie was exhibiting early symptoms of the cancer when she visited her GP in April 2015 about the lump in her neck.

At that stage, Ms Rawden said, the cancer would not have been ‘extensive’ or ‘life-threatening.’

The ‘misinterpretation’ of subsequent scans, particularly an ultrasound, resulted in a Rosie being referred to a team not managed by paediatric oncologists. 

Ms Rawden said: ‘Had the ultrasound scan of October 2015 been correctly interpreted, it is likely Rosie would have been referred on the correct pathway.

‘Had she been so referred, it is unlikely she would have have died.’

Ms Rawden told University of Leicester Hospitals Trust to reconsider its position on holding an inquiry.

In a statement, her mother and father said: ‘We are horrified an internal inquiry has not been done in the past three-and-a-half years and that there is still is still a reluctance to perform an inquiry and change practices’

This was necessary, she said, because a number of medical staff members who gave evidence to the inquest had indicated they would follow the same course of action if presented with the same circumstances.

Coroners have legal powers to compel public bodies to conduct internal inquiries.

In a statement, her mother and father said: ‘We are horrified an internal inquiry has not been done in the past three-and-a-half years and that there is still is still a reluctance to perform an inquiry and change practices.

‘We hope that our daughter did not die in vain.’

Speaking after the hearing, the family’s legal representative, Mehmood Duke, said communication between branches of the NHS had been poor.

She said: ‘What has emerged is that communication between the specialities and between GPs and the hospitals remains a critical problem in the NHS.

‘All that the family can hope for now is that lessons have been learned and that future deaths can be prevented.

‘Here we had a 10-year-old girl who was sent down an adult pathway instead of a paediatric one. 

‘This set off a chain of events which led to a number of missed opportunities to diagnose Hodgkin lymphoma.’

A spokesman for the hospitals trust said: ‘Our thoughts remain with Rosie’s family.

‘We will now take some time to reflect on the verdict shared today and consider how best to share the learning internally.

‘We will not be making any further comment at this time.’

What is Hodgkin’s lymphoma and what are the survival rates? 

Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph nodes, which is the body’s disease-fighting network.

That network consists of the spleen, bone marrow, lymph nodes and thymus gland. 

There are various types of lymphoma, but two main ones: non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s.

Both have much better prognoses than many types of cancer. 

WHAT IS HODGKIN’S LYMPHOMA?

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of cancer that starts in the white blood cells. It is named after Thomas Hodgkin, an English doctor who first identified the disease in 1832.  

It affects around 1,950 people each year in the UK, and 8,500 a year in the US.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is most common between the ages of 20 and 24, and 75 and 79. 

Five-year survival rates:

The survival rates are much more favorable than most other cancers. 

  • Stage 1: 90%
  • Stage 2: 90%
  • Stage 3: 80%
  • Stage 4: 65% 

Symptoms include: 

  • a painless swelling in the armpits, neck and groin 
  • heavy night sweating
  • extreme weight loss 
  • itching
  • shortness of breath 
  • coughing

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