Belfast Telegraph

Doctor's concerns over hospital care for tragic Raychel

By Lisa Smyth

A senior doctor involved in the care of a young girl whose death is at the centre of an independent inquiry has raised serious concerns over her treatment at Altnagelvin Hospital.

Muhammad Zafar was a trainee surgeon when he examined Raychel Ferguson (9) on June 7, 2001 – the morning after she underwent an appendectomy.

Appearing at the Hyponatraemia Inquiry yesterday, Mr Zafar said she continued to receive IV fluids despite instructions these should be stopped, and that nurses and junior doctors failed to inform him when her condition began to deteriorate.

He said it was "very unusual" for a patient to repeatedly vomit after the surgery and described it as "serious" that the vomit later showed the presence of blood.

After examining Raychel at 8.30am, Mr Zafar said he believed the Londonderry youngster was recovering and would be discharged the following day.

The court heard that Raychel was smiling and "doing well" and he asked nurses to reduce her IV fluids and see whether she was able to tolerate taking fluids orally.

He also raised concerns over the fact that staff replaced a bag of IV fluids at noon – several hours after he examined her.

Counsel for the inquiry, Monye Anyadike-Danes QC, asked: "From what you saw... would you have been surprised she was having a new bag of fluid put up at noon?"

Mr Zafar replied: "I would be surprised. She didn't need it."

Earlier, the inquiry heard from Dr Bernie Trainor who was a senior house officer when she was involved in the care of Raychel.

She said she could not recall being invited to or attending a critical incident meeting that took place after Raychel died – even though her medical director told police she was there. Dr Trainor said this did not necessarily mean she was not present.


The Hyponatraemia Inquiry is examining the deaths of Adam Strain, Claire Roberts and Raychel Ferguson. It is also investigating the deaths of Lucy Crawford and issues arising from the treatment of Conor Mitchell. The issue of fluid management during their time in hospital is central to the cases of each child.

Belfast Telegraph


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