Seizure caused death

A SIX-year-old boy who drowned in a bath in Grafton three years ago might be alive today if there was more public awareness of the dangers of epilepsy a coronial inquest has found.

The inquest, held in Grafton Court House from October 17 to 19 before the NSW Deputy State Coroner, Magistrate Scott Mitchell, found the boy, Lachlan Charles Cumbo, died when he drowned in his bath after apparently having an epileptic seizure.

The inquest heard evidence from Lachlan's mother and father, as well as two medical experts, that Lachlan suffered frequent seizures and had been taken to hospital eight times between 2003 and 2008 after fitting.

Despite attending four different hospitals, doctors at no time suggested the boy had epilepsy, although his father said he had asked doctors to consider it.

However, the coroner suggested this may have been a reason for the failure to diagnose the condition. as he did not present more than twice at any hospital.

One of the medical experts, Professor John Peam, AO, said it was a pity Lachlan never had continuous care from a single GP, who would have got to know him over time. He said this would have allowed the boy access to anti-epileptic drugs, which cross-sectional care did not allow.

The inquest also heard the NSW Department of Community Services held back evidence from police, however a department representative said that internal changes in more recent times meant this would not happen now.

Mr Mitchell directed the findings of this case and transcripts go to the Health Minister to increase awareness of the risks of drowning for people with a history of epilepsy.

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