'It's so tragic that a young boy should die'
A coroner has ruled a much-loved teenager died of meningitis after a 'necessary surgical procedure' - and highlighted a possible 'missed opportunity'.
Callum Blade Hubbard passed away in Sheffield Children's Hospital in February, 2014.
Nearly three months before, the 14-year-old underwent an operation at Chesterfield Royal Hospital to treat a cholesteatoma - which is a destructive and expanding growth - in his left ear.
Today, as she waited for her son's inquest to conclude more than four years after his tragic death, Anne Hubbard described Callum as a 'wonderful and amazing' boy.
The Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School pupil, of Quarry Road, Apperknowle, adored Sheffield United and his middle name was inspired by the Blades.
The Chesterfield coroners' court inquest heard Dr Matthew Kurian, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist at Chesterfield Royal Hospital, saw Callum on November 14, 2013.
He diagnosed Callum as having an acute ear infection and said he was 'convinced it was an improving case'.
On November 17, 2013, Callum attended the hospital with ear pain, neck stiffness, headaches and nausea and doctors made a working diagnosis of meningitis.
Callum underwent a CT scan - which was 'normal' - and was given intravenous antibiotics before his diagnosis was changed to mastoiditis.
Callum came under the care of Dr Katie Midwinter, a consultant ENT surgeon at Chesterfield Royal Hospital, on November 18, 2013.
She carried out an operation to treat a cholesteatoma in Callum's left ear and discontinued his antibiotics.
He was discharged from the hospital the following day.
Dr Katherine Lendrum, a consultant in emergency medicine at Chesterfield Royal Hospital, said an ambulance brought Callum to the A&E department on November 22, 2013 - four days after his ear operation.
She explained his father phoned 999 as 'overnight Callum had become less responsive'.
She added: "The ambulance crew was concerned he had a serious brain infection.
"The paramedics were also very concerned about a rash.
"They gave him some antibiotics.
"I was worried about meningitis."
Dr Lendrum said Callum was 'seriously ill' and he was transferred to Sheffield Children's Hospital.
There, he underwent a brain operation by Dr Saurabh Sinha, a consultant adult and paediatric neurosurgeon.
Dr Robert Hunter, senior coroner for Derbyshire, told Dr Sinha: "You and your team did everything you could to try and save Callum's life.
"There was no stone left unturned."
After almost three months, Callum never regained consciousness.
His condition deteriorated and he sadly died on February 8, 2014.
'Possible missed opportunity'
The inquest heard Callum's father Neil Hubbard phoned Chesterfield Royal Hospital on the evening of November 21, 2013, after his son complained of ear pain, neck pain and headaches.
A nurse contacted the on-call ENT doctor who advised that Callum should be seen the following morning - as he was.
Referring to Mr Hubbard's phone call, Dr Hunter said: "It may have been prudent for staff to seek further information about Callum's condition.
"This was possibly, in my mind, a missed opportunity to assess Callum earlier."
However, Dr Hunter said it would be 'speculative' to determine the outcome if Callum had been assessed sooner.
Dr Maxwell McCormick, a consultant ENT surgeon in Liverpool, independently looked into Callum’s case and found 'no evidence of negligence'.
Police launched an investigation after his death but no charges were brought.
Dr Hunter ruled Dr Midwinter made an 'appropriate' decision to discontinue antibiotics after the ear operation.
Dr Hunter asked Dr McCormick: "Had Callum received antibiotics after the operation on November 18, 2013, can you say he would not have died of meningitis?"
Dr McCormick replied: "I don't think I can."
He previously told the inquest: "On the balance of probabilities, it may have arrested the progression of the disease but the result could possibly have been the same."
Dr Hunter also ruled it was 'more likely than not' the meningitis developed after Callum's ear operation on November 18, 2013.
He said the operation was a 'necessary surgical procedure'.
"Left untreated, cholesteatoma can have fatal consequences," he added.
Dr Hunter concluded: "Callum Blade Hubbard died from a recognised complication of a necessary surgical procedure."
Addressing Callum's families and friends in court, Dr Hunter said: "My condolences.
"I appreciate this isn't what you were expecting - but I have to be impartial and make my findings on facts heard at the inquest.
"I can't imagine what it's like to lose a child - I can't imagine what you're going through.
"I'm informed Callum was a great lad.
"His light has not gone out - it's still here - so please keep it with you.
"It's been a very difficult and emotional inquest.
"It's so tragic that a young boy should die."
For more information about meningitis, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/meningitis_______________________