Mum demands answers after doctor 'accused her of faking daughter's symptoms'

A mum whose 11-year-old daughter died of a complex medical condition is demanding an investigation into a doctor who allegedly accused her of making up symptoms.

Melody Driscoll lost her life at King’s College Hospital in July 2018, having suffered from a rare genetic disorder called Rett Syndrome.

Her mum, Karina Driscoll, says she was in a constant battle with doctors over the quantity of painkillers her daughter required, claiming her cries for help weren’t being listened to.

Documents seen by show one paediatrician accused the family of pushing for medication she didn’t need and that they were giving her unnecessary booster doses of morphine.

The doctor, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said this amounted to Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII) — a rare form of abuse where a parent or carer exaggerates or causes symptoms of a child.

Karina, from Thornton Heath, south London says this left her feeling ‘absolutely devastated’. She says the FII label follows her around on her medical records, despite never having had a psychological evaluation for it.

Now she is hoping to clear her name and is raising funds for a legal team to represent them as they take the clinician to the General Medical Council.

She told ‘The biggest thing we want to do is to stop her from doing this to anyone else.

‘I’m with a group called Fiightback, who help people who have been accused of FII.

‘The amount of cases. It’s literally becoming the doctor’s go-to. If a parent doesn’t agree with the doctor, that’s the first thing they will go to because it can override the parent. Too many are being accused.’

Denying claims she overdosed Melody while she was at home, Karina said her daughter was on a controlled pump that limited the amount that could be administered.

She said: ‘If she got breakthrough pain we could give her a 1ml bolus. Once you’ve given her a push you’ve then got a 15 minute lockout, you couldn’t give her any more.

‘There was no way I could have overdosed her on what she had. When she went to hospital she went over to the hospital pumps, and they could see when we were or weren’t giving a push.

‘We were trained to do that when she was at Great Ormond Street and we never had a problem. No one ever had any issue with it.’

Karina, 39, says that when Melody was in pain, she would pull out the gastrostomy or jejunostomy buttons as a signal, as she was mostly non-verbal.

Legal documents show that in January 2018, the doctor in question claimed the parents asked for private time with Melody and then closed the curtains.

They were then alleged to have left with the gastrostomy button tucked between her pillows — a claim they vehemently deny.

A recorded phone call between one of the nurses and Karina’s husband Nigel, sent to, suggests the button was in place as the parents left on that day.

Karina added: ‘We got to the stage where we felt we couldn’t go in there without anyone watching because of the accusations.

‘I was absolutely mortified. I was staying with Melody at the hospital constantly, I was there 24/7 sleeping beside her.

‘The social workers said if you’re adamant the symptoms are there you need to take a step back and see if the symptoms come up when you’re not there.’

Between November 2017 and July 2018, the parents said they took a step back, only visiting for a few hours per day.

They were in ‘floods of tears’, claiming staff were ‘completely dismissing her pain’ dismissing her writhing around, screaming and signalling to painful parts of the body as ‘her behaviour’.

Karina alleges that the doctor accused her of putting blood in her daughter’s stoma bag as a way of exaggerating her internal bleeding.

The clinician also allegedly claimed that Nigel, 49, deliberately woke Melody during a late night visit, caused her distress and then filmed her. He denies this and says he was recording one of her fits of pain as evidence.

The family say the paediatrician suggested Melody’s parents were not interested in lowering her doses of morphine and ketamine.

Karina disputes this, saying they would aim to lower it when they thought she was in a better condition, but thought medics were weaning her off too quickly.

She added: ‘Just before she went into King’s me and the consultant were trying to lower it, and she [the doctor] was denying it saying it was all lies and saying we hadn’t.’

Following Melody’s death, Karina claimed doctors’ decision to withdraw her painkillers, against the family’s wishes, triggered a pancreatitis resulting in her ‘internally bleeding to death’.

A coroner rejected this earlier this year, delivering a narrative conclusion that she died from post-operative complications following the development of gallstones and a bowel perforation.

The family’s barrister Patricia Hitchcock QC told the inquest how Karina and Nigel were ‘haunted by the belief that Melody died in pain because she was not listened to’.

Consultant paediatric hepatologist Dr Jonathan Hind said Melody ‘occasionally’ suffered pain but also suffered from withdrawals as her medication was decreased.

He added: ‘I do think that sometimes Melody had pain from the bowel and other times I do think it was withdrawals, and in both situations, morphine would help.’

A spokesperson for the King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘Our safeguarding team has a legal and professional duty to protect the wellbeing of children, and raise and investigate, as a neutral act, any potential child safeguarding issues.’

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