Hospital Breakfast Contributed to Victorian Boy’s Death, Coroner Finds

The hospital breakfast given to a 13-year-old Victorian boy was a contributing factor in his death, a coroner has found.

Louis Tate died in Frankston hospital in October 2015 after being admitted for observation following an asthma attack.

Coroner Phillip Byrne on Monday found Louis died from the extremely rare condition malignant hyperthermia. A contributing factor to his death was anaphylaxis, from the breakfast he ate at the hospital.

Outside of the court Louis’s parents said they were satisfied the coroner confirmed there were allergens in Louis’s breakfast.

“Ultimately, we know if he hadn’t had breakfast he would’ve been back home with us and we wouldn’t be here,” Louis’s father, Simon Tate, said.

They will now take civil action against the hospital.

Louis, who had a history of asthma and allergies to cow’s milk, raw eggs and nuts, suffered a reaction the next morning after eating a mouthful of breakfast, despite the hospital being advised of his food allergies.

Louis asked for Weetbix and soy milk for breakfast, but immediately after tasting it his lips began tingling and his condition fast deteriorated.

The coroner said he was frustrated he could not precisely pinpoint what allergen in the food caused the reaction. He was also not satisfied the carton of milk delivered to forensic experts for testing was the same carton from which Louis was given the milk.

Byrne said even without the knowledge Louis would ultimately die, the foodstuff that may have contained the allergen should have been retrieved and secured for internal investigation.

“I am somewhat frustrated,” he said. “Whether it was mistakenly cow’s milk in the glass or some other contamination due to dairy product, regrettably I am unable to determine.”

Louis’s parents said the coroner spoke of deficiencies in the hospital’s food handling procedures, but it was disappointing he stopped short of making recommendations.

Byrne said Peninsula Health had since put in new food handling procedures and guidelines that were “thorough and appropriate”, relieving him of having to make formal recommendations on it.