|Parents invest in aid to
James Meikle, health correspondent
Tuesday June 18, 2002
When Jason and Charlotte Maude's three-year-old daughter Isabel nearly died after doctors failed to diagnose complications from chicken pox, they decided not to sue the NHS but to help ensure it made fewer such mistakes.
Isabel suffered multiple organ failure after first her GP and then a doctor in the accident and emergency department of a south London hospital did not identify the deadly symptoms of toxic shock syndrome and the flesh-eating bug, necrotising fasciitis.
Her life was in extreme danger and there was a high likelihood of brain damage, but Isabel, now six, has just one legacy from her terrible experience, a wound around her stomach and groin that will need plastic surgery when she is fully grown.
Instead of suing over the mistakes, Mr and Mrs Maude ploughed £35,000 of their own money, gained from the demutualisation of the RAC's motoring services, into working with doctors to develop an on-line diagnostic and reminder system, allowing less specialist doctors to identify a range of childhood diseases.
Donations from companies and individuals helped swell the funds for developing the system, named Isabel, and conduct small-scale trials. Yesterday the Department of Health announced it was to take the initiative further with more tests.
"It never felt right to sue", said Mr Maude, a former City stockbroker and equity researcher, who quit his job to care for Isabel, with the intensive care consultant whose team saved his daughter's life.
Putting doctors through years of legal action did not seem right either, when it was the system that was at fault.
The charity has raised £400,000, he said.
But another £400,000 was needed to complete the system, and design another one for doctors working with adult patients.
Medicine and health
Ash (anti-smoking site)
British Medical Association
Department of Health
General Medical Council
Health on the Net Foundation
Institute of Cancer Research
Medical Research Council
World Health Organisation
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