Toddler dies of sepsis after being turned away with ‘stomach bug’

Harper Aitken had a rash but doctors did not pick up what the problem was (Picture: PA Real Life)

A three-year-old girl died of sepsis after a doctor thought she just had a tummy bug.

‘Wee whirlwind’ Harper Aitken felt unwell, with the following day getting worse and developing a rash on her stomach which failed the glass test.

She had a high temperature, and her mum Lori Mullen called an ambulance.

‘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,’ Lori told the Daily Record.

A doctor asked her to give a urine sample, but she defecated while her mum was collecting it and Lori was told it was contaminated and couldn’t be analysed.

‘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 told the paper.

Harper developed sepsis from a sore throat (Picture: PA Real Life)

With her rash having disappeared and her temperature dropping, she was told she could take Lori home.

But during the night, her temperature went up again and she started to ‘hallucinate’, Lori, from Bo’ness near Falkirk in Scotland, said.

By morning, she was feeling better again, although had some diarrhoea.

But by the afternoon, her grandmother noticed she had a ‘blue dot’ on her hand, and they realised the rash had returned, on her back this time, and her lips were turning blue.

She took her to her GP who 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)”,’ she told the paper. ‘I told her to put her mask back on and that was the last thing she ever said.’

The ambulance arrived at 3.50pm and Harper was pronounced dead just three hours later, at 6.50pm on March 8, 2019.

She said that her sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, had started from a Strep A throat infection, which is common in children.

It happens when someone’s own immune system overreacts to an infection and starts to damage their own tissues and organs.

Lori urged other parents to ‘trust your gut’ if they felt their child needed medical treatment.

She spoke out to mark World Sepsis Awareness Day yesterday, aimed to raise awareness of how it kills at least 11 million people each year and is ‘the number one preventable cause of death worldwide’.

An NHS Forth Valley ­spokeswoman said: ‘A number of changes and improvements have been made following a detailed internal review. This included additional clinical education and training led by an experienced paediatrician.

‘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.’

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