A doctor cost a five-year-old Newport, South Wales child, with life-threatening Asthma, her life when she was ten minutes late for her appointment and refused to see her, a coroner has found. The Independent reported on this Wednesday, February 28, 2018.

Ellie-May Clark, who was only five years old, and her mother had arrived at the medical clinic five minutes late but had to wait for the clinic receptionist to get off the phone and for a patient that was in front of them for her emergency appointment on Jan. 26, 2015.

Emergency services denied due to a ten-minute rule

The coroner’s court inquiry found that her mother, who also has a month-old baby, didn’t have a vehicle or a way to get the clinic on time. She only had approximately less than 30 minutes to get to the clinic when she found a way and informed the clinic that she would be late. When they did arrive, her daughter was not able to walk and was gasping for air and the doctor, a Dr. Joanne Rowe, declined to see her.

The inquiry was informed that this doctor had a “10-minute rule” policy that stated that anytime a patient arrived more than 10 minutes late for their medical appointment at the clinic, they would not be seen. Later that evening, Ellie-May collapsed and died at a hospital due to bronchial asthma.

Senior coroner statements and conclusions

While a letter was sent to the clinic and was received by Dr. Rowe, that warned that Ellie-May may have a deadly episode of life-threatening asthma, the senior coroner, Wendy James stated, “Ellie-May Clark died of natural causes where the opportunity to provide potentially life-saving treatment was missed.” James went on to say that it was unacceptable for Ellie-May to be turned away without a medical assessment and advice on what to do if her bronchial asthma deteriorated.

James further stated that while the evidence presented to her wouldn’t help her know whether or not an earlier prevention would have prevented Ellie-May’s death, the failures in the system and the denial of being seen by Dr. Rowe was unacceptable. James intends to notify the clinic, the health board, the chief coroner, the Wales health inspector, and Shanice Clark of her opinion to hopefully prevent any future deaths by neglect.

Ellie-May Clark’s medical issues

While Ellie-May's family asked to find medical malpractice against the doctor, James told the family that unfortunately, there was no evidence to show that. Ellie-May suffered the asthma problem since she was about a year old and her first visit to the hospital was in 2011, a few months before her second birthday.

She had been prescribed asthma inhalers and had been sent to the hospital at least five times between 2013 and 2014 and in her chart, it was noted to her physician that she had a life-threatening medical issue. The hospital notes to her doctor also stated that Ellie-May was at an extreme risk of having another asthma attack that could be fatal. As with all deaths, the coroner noted that Ellie-May’s death was most likely due to her bronchial asthma and that she might have suffered a lack of oxygen as well as a seizure prior to her passing.