A case review held by the Local Safeguarding Children Board has found that NHS failings led to the death of 8-year-old Sophie Waller, who would not open her mouth due to fear of dentists.
The girl died at home from kidney failure caused by dehydration in 2005 after refusing to eat or drink as she did not open her mouth. Sophie's mother Janet Waller told that her daughter developed a fear of dentists when her tongue was accidentally cut during a routine visit.
In 2005 when her milk teeth loosened, she refused to go to a dentist, but was taken to a specialist at the Royal Cornwall Hospital who took all Sophie's milk teeth out. She was in hospital for 11 days and her fear reached such heights that she refused to open her mouth. Mrs Waller tried to get her back into the hospital, but was told to take her to a child psychologist.
A case review has found that the hospital was guilty of below-par care, "There was a lack of clarity over the open door arrangement which was intended to allow the child's parents to bring her back in the week following discharge and when they phoned for advice on the seventh day, they were referred back to the psychologist for support," it said.
The Royal Cornwall Hospital has tendered an apology to Sophie's family.