A 21-year-old man died after his GP failed to alert him he was eligible for a free meningitis vaccine due to a computer blunder.
Tim Mason began to fell unwell on March 15 last year but pushed on regardless.
The following day, Mr Mason, of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, woke in the early hours violently vomiting, prompting his mother Fiona Mason to rush him to hospital.
Despite barely being able to walk, doctors dismissed his symptoms as gastroenteritis and sent him home, only for him to ‘feel like he was dying’ hours later.
After going back to hospital, medics realised he was battling meningitis and septicaemia, which occurs when large amounts of bacteria enter the bloodstream.
Despite doctors’ best efforts to save him, Mr Mason died 21 hours and 15 minutes after his symptoms began.
Tim Mason (pictured) died of meningitis and septicaemia 21 hours and 15 minutes after his symptoms began. Doctors initially dismissed his vomiting as gastroenteritis
Mr Mason was at college training to be an electrical engineer when he started to feel poorly.
‘He felt sufficiently unwell to go to the doctor, who advised him to take a few more days off and rest,’ Mrs Mason said.
Mr Mason was sent home only to wake the next morning violently throwing up.
‘My instinct told me something was seriously wrong so we took him to hospital,’ his mother said.
‘By the time we got to Tunbridge Wells Hospital he had a high temperature and could barely walk. After a long wait he was misdiagnosed with gastroenteritis and sent home at about 8:45am.’
By 2.30pm, Mr Mason had taken a turn for the worse and his mother rushed him back to hospital.
‘This time doctors began treatment but it was too late to save his life,’ she said.
‘He died that evening. It was 21 hours and 15 minutes from visible first symptoms to death.’
Mrs Mason and her husband Gavin believe the IT blunder led to their son’s death. ‘The system failed Tim in more than one way,’ she said.
‘He should have received a letter from the GP calling him in for his vaccine, which would have prevented him getting MenW in the first place, but no letter was ever received.
‘Tim had attended several GP appointments during the years after the vaccine was introduced in the UK.
‘Had the EMIS alert been activated, he would have been flagged to staff at those appointments as a patient eligible for the vaccine. This didn’t happen.’
The couple also believe their son’s symptoms should have alerted hospital staff to the possibility of meningitis at his first visit.
‘All we can do now is try to raise awareness of these issues and make sure improvements are made to stop this happening to other families,’ Mrs Mason said.