Child dies of sepsis after being misdiagnosed by emergency services

Child dies of sepsis after being misdiagnosed by emergency services

Can you imagine how heartbreaking it is to know that your child died because of an infection that could have easily been prevented?

Melissa Mead shares the tragic story of how her son, William, was misdiagnosed by the emergency service that was supposed to help save his life.

"They are working from a script"

William's parents were worried about his persistent cough, so they decided to call the emergency NHS 111 helpline. However, neither the emergency service nor the out-of-hours doctor that they were directed to recognized the symptoms of sepsis that their child had.


According to Professor Fleming, an expert witness from Bristol Children's Hospital:

"One of the difficulties that 111 faces is that they are not talking to a skilled professional - they are working from a script, not their professional knowledge.

"The script does not cover what is a very rare event."

The staff was just given six weeks of training

When they called the service and told them about the child's symptoms, she was only advised to give her baby lots of fluids, ibuprofen, and calpol. The emergency services failed to diagnose his symptoms as those of sepsis. His death could have easily been prevented if only he was diagnosed properly.

The NHS helpline was supposed to provide a 24 hour service to the public in case they need urgent medical advice, but not with a life-threatening condition.

The NHS say that their helpline is staffed by fully trained medical advisers, with support from nurses and paramedics. However, according to a whistleblower, the staff was just given six weeks of training, and asked questions from a computer screen that gives medical advice based on the caller's answers.

"I do not want my life to be consumed by hate, anger and regret"

mead family

William's Mother, Melissa, said in a statement:

"Those that went into work each time they saw William didn’t act in a malicious way. They didn’t allow William to die on purpose."

"They are aware of their mistakes and the systems that allowed for those mistakes to take place are being changed."

"I hope that those involved in William’s care will not make those same mistakes again."

Melissa added: "I do not want my life to be consumed by hate, anger and regret."

"To seek revenge on those involved would not honour William’s memory in the way that he deserves and it would not bring William back."

Go to the next page to learn more about how to prevent a misdiagnosis

Preventing a misdiagnosis

According to WebMD, here are some steps that you can take in order to make sure that your doctor is giving your child the correct diagnosis:

  1. Plan ahead before you meet with specialists - before going to the doctor's office, make sure to bring any and all documents that you might need, xrays, prescriptions, etc., anything to help your doctors better identify your child's concern.
  2. Make sure to take note of each and every symptom - Every little thing counts. If anything seems out of the ordinary in you or your child's body, make sure to take note of those things because for some diseases, a single symptom might be a clue.
  3. Be aware of your child's medical history - Make sure to know all the vaccinations that your child has had previously, as well as any vaccinations they haven't had. It's also important to note any previous ailments that they had before.
  4. Bring any medications that you're using - This is especially helpful since some medications can have side effects that might make diagnosing an ailment difficult. If you have a prescription, you need to bring that as well.
  5. Be descriptive about the symptoms - It's better to describe your symptoms instead of concluding anything outright. For example, instead of saying that your child has a throat infection, it would be better to say that their throat is scratchy, or they have a bad cough.
  6. Make sure to identify the symptoms clearly - Be very specific about the symptoms. Tell them how long it has lasted, or if your child is experiencing pain, you can ask them how painful it is.
  7. Ask your doctor about any red flags - Always ask your doctor what symptoms to look out for in case your child's ailment grows severe. This would let you identify any red flags that might cause your child's ailment to become more severe.
  8. Don't be afraid to question your doctor - Don't be shy in asking your doctor about the specifics of their diagnosis. You can also try and get a second opinion from another doctor just to make sure that nothing is misdiagnosed. Most doctors are fine with their patients getting a second opinion, as this only means that you're really concerned about your child's ailment.

Sources: Mirror, Daily Mail, BBC

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Written by

Nasreen Majid

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