His Migraine Wasn't a Migraine

Nancy Harris Bonk Health Guide
  • We all know the drill. If we are having the worst head pain of our life, seek immediate medical attention. It may be a life threatening condition. When we arrive at the treatment facility, whether it's a hospital or urgent care clinic, we expect the best, most knowledgeable health care we can get. If not, where does that leave us? As Cheryl and William Cressey found out, not in a good place at all.

    I came across a news alert recently that deeply saddened me. William Cressey, a 10 year old boy from England, died in March after doctors initially diagnosed him with a Migraine attack. William was experiencing severe head and neck pain along with a fever. When he didn't get better, his mom took him to the hospital. Mrs. Cressey suggested they look for other causes such as meningitis, but they ignored her. He spent a horrible, pain-filled night in his hospital room. In the morning, his doctors felt he had "perked up" a bit and could go home. William was discharged with a prescription of calpol (similar to acetaminophen), but he really wasn't better at all.

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    As soon as they were home, William became even more ill. Mrs. Cressey took her son back to the hospital, and during the car ride, he began having seizures and lose consciousness. As soon as they got to the hospital she found him a wheelchair and remembers him saying, "Mummy, I'm going blind, help me please, Mummy."

    Three additional doctors gave him a quick look over, during which time, William's health continued to decline. The medical staff decided not to give him any medication, stating his blood work was inconclusive, and they would rather keep in his room. So William was left unattended in his room for hours.

    Later that evening William became even more ill, suffering another seizure. His mom pleaded with doctors to help her son, do something, at least give him antibiotics. But by now it was too late; William had slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness.

    There is now an inquest into William's death, whether he received the proper treatment, why he was discharged without being examined, and why notes and records are missing. A whole host of things went terribly wrong here, and many were human error. If someone, anyone, had just really looked at William, or listened to his mom, maybe he would still be with us.



    McFarlane, Neil. "William Cressey died after being discharged from Darlington Memorial Hospital." The Northern Echo. October 24, 2009.

    Sims, Paul. "My 10-year-old son died of meningitis after doctors told me he had a migraine." MailOnline. October 23, 2009.

    News Today Section. "Darlington Memorial Hospital criticised over William Cressey death." JournalLive.co.uk. October 23, 2009.

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    © Nancy H. Bonk

    Last updated November 24, 2009

Published On: November 24, 2009