'How did GP not see my son was dying?'

A GP who failed to properly examine a critically ill 13-year-old boy has got away with “a slap on the wrist”, says his furious mother. Troy Philpott, from Hersden, near Canterbury, died less than a week after his visit to the surgery from a bleed on the brain caused by acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Inger Philpott with photos of Troy

Now Dr Penny Lupton has been sanctioned for serious misconduct, which investigators deemed would have been considered “deplorable” by other doctors. They found the GP had failed to examine Troy properly and sent him home with antibiotics when he should have been urgently admitted to hospital.

But the decision of the Medical Practioners Tribunal Service to impose a three-month conditions of practice order on Dr Lupton has been branded “ludicrous” by Troy’s mum Inger.

“I trusted the doctor completely with my son’s life,” she said. “It’s ludicrous – she should have at least got some sort of suspension but has effectively got away with a slap on the wrist.”

Sporty Troy played rugby for Canterbury under-13s and was a Kent champion BMX rider

The tragedy happened in April 2017 when Inger took Archbishop’s pupil Troy to her village surgery in Hersden because he was feeling unwell. His symptoms included rapid weight loss, sudden bruising on his legs and arms, excessive thirst, aches and sweating.

But after being sent away with antibiotics, his condition deteriorated over the next four hours and Inger took matters into her own hands and called an ambulance.

“Had I not used my own instincts and called for help when we got back from the surgery, I would have probably woken up the next day to find Troy dead in bed,” she said. Troy was taken to the QEQM at Margate where the true severity of his illness was discovered and he was transferred to St George’s Hospital in London.

The bruises which suddenly appeared on Troy’s legs

It was there he suffered a bleed on the brain and his family had to take the agonising decision to allow his life support to be turned off. Now Inger is urging other parents to go with their gut feeling if they have concerns about their children’s health.

She believes the GP should have been more concerned about the unusual and rapidly forming bruises on Troy’s legs, which Dr Lupton attributed to rugby injuries. “A parent knows their child best and it is best to be safe rather than sorry and seek further help if you are not happy. I still fret over whether I could have done anything more to get help for Troy sooner and just taken him to hospital myself.

“I know the disease was quite advanced but quicker treatment might have given him more time and not left us with the awful situation we found ourselves in at St George’s Hospital, which must be every parent’s nightmare.”

Troy was rushed to St George’s Hospital in London but later died from a bleed on the brain

The family, including Troy’s dad Del, brother Kane, 21, and sister Lily, 13, say he will forever be part of their lives. The sporty youngster, who played rugby for Canterbury under-13s and was a Kent champion BMX rider also enjoyed fishing and scuba diving. “He wasn’t the most academic of children but had such a cheeky, outgoing personality that everyone loved being around him,” says Inger, who helps run a family print firm with her father in Broadstairs.

“It’s been a great comfort to us to know he was so loved and, of course, he will never be forgotten in our household, especially on special occasions like birthdays and at Christmas when we always include him. “We have had huge support from the community which has been a great comfort. “I now play rugby for Canterbury ladies to help keep Troy’s spirit alive and even wear his socks.”

Troy’s funeral service was held in May 2017 when he was given a fitting send-off when more than 200 people gathered to celebrate his life, with an eye-catching Optimus Prime truck carrying him to his final resting place. Panel blasts ‘catalogue of errors’ The family doctor who failed to examine Troy properly was responsible for a “catalogue of errors”, an inquiry into her professional conduct has concluded.

Dr Penny Lupton was found deficient in multiple areas of her examination of the teenager. The Medical Practioners Tribunal Service conducted the hearing following an investigation into the GP’s conduct by the General Medical Council. But the tribunal recognised Dr Lupton had “worked hard to address the failings” over the last 15 months, and had an otherwise unblemished 20-year career.

‘The tribunal considered collectively these failings were sufficiently grave as to constitute serious misconduct’

During the hearing earlier this month there was some dispute over what Dr Lupton had been told about Troy’s symptoms.

But her wholly inadequate examination, poor note-taking and not referring him to hospital were deemed to be serious failures by the tribunal. Panel chairman Debbie Hill concluded: “Although the tribunal accepts it was one consultation with one patient in an otherwise unblemished career, within that short consultation there was a catalogue of errors which led to multiple failings, namely a failure to enquire about thirst and excessive drinking, a failure to examine the abdomen or elicit vital signs and a failure to formulate an adequate management plan including an immediate referral to hospital. “The tribunal considered collectively these failings were sufficiently grave as to constitute serious misconduct.”

But Mrs Hill added: “The insight shown, remediation and reflection undertaken, and the measures outlined by Dr Lupton, meant that the tribunal was satisfied that she had shown considerable insight and remediated her misconduct to a significant extent. “In these circumstances the tribunal concluded that the likelihood of repetition is very low.” Dr Lupton did not respond to our request to comment.

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