Posted 14/09/2018 By: Julie Crossley
The parents of a nine month old reported to the BBC that last August their daughter, Amy, had been out of sorts for a few days.Worried, her Mother decided to take her to the local accident and emergency unit where Amy was diagnosed with an ear infection and sent home with some medicine.
Two days later, her condition had worsened. She had a sky-high temperature, was no longer eating or drinking and had gone floppy.
Her mother took her back to the hospital where "all hell broke loose". Within an hour, she was placed in an induced coma. She was diagnosed with sepsis and then later peneumococcal meningitis.
It was 18 days before she was ready to be discharged.
Amy is now doing well - although the family will not know for a few years whether there are any long-term effects.
"It could have been so different," her mother says. "If we had got her to hospital any later, she might not have survived."
'We should have been given more advice'
Amy’s mother from the north-west of England, is now backing a plea by the Meningitis Research Foundation calling for more urgency and monitoring to ensure that parents receive the right advice about potential bacterial meningitis and sepsis cases among babies and young children.
"We felt reassured when the hospital told us it was an ear infection," she says. "We were not told to look out for anything else.If we had, we might have brought her in sooner."
In the past decade, there have been between 700 and 1,300 reported cases of meningococcal disease each year in the UK. Between 5% and 10% of cases result in death.
Of those who survive, 10% to 15% can be left with severe and disabling after-effects such as loss of hearing and sight, brain injury and damage to major organs or loss of limbs.
The government in England says it has already taken action. A working group established by ministers has made a number of recommendations to improve care, including that it should be documented in patient's notes when safety netting information has been provided.
The NHS is still in the process of rolling out the recommendations.
The Royal College of GPs also says it has made the issue a top priority in recent years. It has produced a toolkit to help GPs manage and identify cases.
Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, who chairs the Royal College of GPs, says: "GPs know all too well that meningitis and indeed any form of sepsis can lead to serious complications and in some cases can be fatal, if not recognised and treated in a timely manner.
"But the challenge for all clinicians is that initial symptoms often present in exactly the same way as common viral illnesses such as flu, making both conditions very hard to spot in the early stages of disease.
"GPs are on permanent alert for signs of meningitis in their patients and we do speak to the parents of babies and young children about what they need to look out for which may indicate that an illness could be developing into something much more serious."
Julie Crossley an Associate in the Medical Injury team at Ashtons Legal comments: “Fortunately for Amy she does not appear to have had any immediate effects from the infection although it is understood any long term effects might not be known for some time.Tragically any delay in diagnosis of meningitis can lead to loss of limbs and in the worst case scenario loss of life and whilst the public are now much more aware of potential symptoms, GP’s and front line services have a duty to properly advise patients of what to look out for, and to advise patients to return if there is concern.This would help to avoid serious or fatal injury and avoid litigation.”
If you have an enquiry or you would like to find out more about our services, why not contact us?Call Us On 0330 404 0773