In the UK, a mom lost her baby girl after being told by the hospital that her daughter had a simple “tummy bug” despite the rash on the little girl’s stomach.
When Harper Aitken, 3, had a rash on her stomach, her mother Lori Mullen, 34, decided to call for an ambulance.
“I phoned an ambulance,” Lori said. “When it arrived, her temperature was 41.5. She was observed for a wee while at the hospital but she had begun to feel a bit better.”
The 3-year-old was taken to hospital and was given a few tests and as Lori went to get the results the medic said it was infected and couldn’t be analyzed.
The doctor at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, Scotland concluded that Harper had a tummy bug and said she should go home.
“I asked her to look at it but she refused and said she was just going to put it down as a tummy bug,” Lori said. “The rash had disappeared, and her temperature was coming down so I was told to take her home. In the night she was hallucinating, and her temperature went up again.”
“Next morning she had perked up but she was back and forward to the toilet with diarrhea,” Lori added. “In the afternoon my mom noticed a blue dot on her hand. I lifted up her top and found the rash really bad on her back. Her lips were beginning to turn blue.”
Lori then took her toddler to the doctor and called an ambulance, with Lori overhearing him say “she looks septic”.
“She was trying to take her oxygen mask off and said, mummy I don’t like this, I want to go home to Cayden (her brother),” Lori said. “I told her to put her mask back on and that was the last thing she ever said.”
The ambulance arrived at 3:50 pm, she was put into an induced coma and a specialist team spent 45 minutes trying to save her life and Harper was pronounced dead just three hours later at 6:50 pm on March 8, 2019.
Speaking on World Sepsis Awareness Day, Lori wants to raise awareness of the vile infection.
She said that Harper’s sepsis had started from a simple Strep A throat infection, which is common in children. Harper developed a red rash on her back and a black rash on her face and arm, and doctors told Lori she was dangerously ill.
Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues. When the infection-fighting processes turn on the body, they cause organs to function poorly and abnormally.
Sepsis may progress to septic shock. This is a dramatic drop in blood pressure that can lead to severe organ problems and death.
“I had asked the first doctor if she had anything life-threatening, she said no but the next day she wasn’t here anymore,” Lori said.
The Procurator Fiscal told Lori changes to the procedure have been made after Harper’s death, however, Lori said that ‘I have never seen any evidence of that. The hospital has never told me what they have done.’
And she urged other parents to ‘trust your gut. I wish I had said the word sepsis.’
“A number of changes and improvements have been made following a detailed internal review,” an NHS Forth Valley spokeswoman said. “This included additional clinical education and training led by an experienced pediatrician.”
“We have met with the family on a number of occasions and shared the findings of the review, however, we will ensure they are also updated on the work which has been carried out,” she added.
Charity Sepsis Research FEAT said sepsis kills around 4,000 people in Scotland every year but the true figures could be even higher.
Colin Graham, chief operating officer at Sepsis Research FEAT, explains that the biological processes that cause sepsis still aren’t understood, and more research is needed.
“Many people are still unaware of how serious sepsis is,” he said. “That’s why raising awareness of this deadly condition is vital, so more people are able to recognize the signs.”
“Sepsis can be mistaken for the flu as symptoms are sometimes similar, but the difference is that these symptoms worsen rapidly when sepsis is the cause,” he explained. “The most important thing is to react fast and seek urgent medical attention as this can improve chances of survival.”
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