West Sussex teenager living with asthma raising awareness after her condition was mismanaged causing near fatal attack

A teenager from West Sussex living with asthma is raising awareness of the condition after she suffered a near fatal attack when her treatment wasn’t managed appropriately.

Brooke Rowe 15, has been treated for the condition for the past 10 years. Throughout 2017 and early 2018, she attended East Surrey Hospital, including the Urgent Care Centre, several times for assessment and management of her asthma.

During the evening of 21 June 2018, Brooke suffered a near fatal asthma attack and went into respiratory arrest. She was resuscitated and admitted to an Intensive Care Unit at another hospital.

Following Brooke’s asthma attack, her parents Caroline, 35, and James, 50, instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the care their daughter had received under the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs East Surrey Hospital, prior to the attack.

Brooke Rowe

The hospital Trust has now admitted liability in so far as there had been a failure to carry out a systematic review of Brooke’s condition in early 2018 and appropriate change in therapy. It also admitted a failure to recognise the severity of Brooke’s asthma and that it did not act upon the poor asthma control from 2017 onwards or take heed of the risk of a fatal or near fatal attack.

Ahead of World Asthma Day (5th May), Ania Bean, the specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Brooke, said: “Brooke has had a difficult few years with her asthma and both she and her parents were understandably terrified and distressed after she suffered the attack in 2018.

“Asthma can be a very debilitating and dangerous illness, if not appropriately managed, and Brooke and her parents had many questions over the care she had received prior to the attack.

“Following our investigation, the hospital Trust admitted Brooke’s condition was mismanaged for more than a year, and while this is deeply concerning we appreciate the admissions and urge the Trust to learn lessons to prevent anyone else from going through what Brooke has.”

Brooke Rowe

Brooke, who lives in Crawley, has been receiving treatment for asthma since around 2011, with a diagnosis confirmed in 2013. She underwent regular GP and hospital assessments.

On 3 May 2017, she presented at the East Surrey Hospital A&E department with a one-week history of shortness of breath and night time wheeze. She was prescribed steroid treatment Prednisolone for three days.

Between then and the following June, Brooke attended hospital another six times with asthma exacerbation. Again, she was prescribed Prednisolone on several occasions.

During the evening of 21 June 2018, her mother, Caroline, noticed Brooke was turning blue and called an ambulance. Brooke suffered a near fatal asthma attack and stopped breathing. The air ambulance team resuscitated Brooke and she was taken to hospital where she was put on a ventilator for five days.

On 13 August, Brooke was seen by an Endocrinology team who noted she had adrenal suppression secondary to prolonged steroid therapy.

Following investigation by Irwin Mitchell, the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has said Brooke’s attack in June 2018 “would and should have been anticipated and prevented with an earlier appropriate difficult asthma intervention, involving an escalation to daily or alternate day steroid, at the lowest effective dose, as appropriate.”

Brooke’s care has now been moved under the care of another hospital Trust and her asthma is currently well managed.

She said: “It’s still so upsetting when I think about the asthma attack I had three years ago. I had been struggling for quite a while with my asthma and it was truly terrifying to think I almost died.

“I’m doing so much better now, which is a huge relief to both me and my mum and dad, but it’s very scary and worrying to know that it could have all gone so differently because my condition wasn’t being managed correctly.

“While I can’t turn back the clock and change that day, I’m grateful that the Trust has admitted what went wrong in my care, and I hope that this means they will make improvements and help stop it happening to anyone else.

“I also hope that by sharing my story, it will make others aware of what can happen when you live with asthma that isn’t managed properly.”

A spokesperson for Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said: “We are extremely sorry that some aspects of the care we provided fell short of the high standards we pride ourselves on. We are ensuring the learning is shared to prevent this happening again.”

World Asthma Day wass on 5 May and is an annual event held to improve asthma awareness and care around the world.