'Paramedic said my seriously ill baby wasn't sick enough to go to hospital', says Chester mum

Reporter:

Steve Creswell

A PARAMEDIC mistook deadly sepsis for a harmless virus and told a mum her baby was not sick enough to be taken to hospital, it is claimed.

But when little Isla McLoughlin-Clegg finally made it to the Countess of Chester’s A&E department, a nurse took one look at her and immediately called for the resuscitation team.

The 15-month-old tot was given emergency antibiotics and put on a ventilator before spending four days with specialists at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.

She had contracted sepsis and septicaemia, a blood infection, which were causing her internal organs to shut down.

Isla’s mother Rachel McLoughlin, from Blacon, told the Leader: “If I'd followed the paramedic’s advice, Isla wouldn’t be here today.

“I don’t know who that nurse was but she saved my daughter’s life. The team at the Countess were amazing; it was a miracle what they did for Isla.”

The mum-of-five said she had called the out-of-hours GP service at the City Walls Medical Centre in Chester at around 12.30pm on Sunday, August 13, after Isla began displaying worrying symptoms.

She was becoming “limp, floppy and unresponsive”, and kept falling asleep. Miss McLoughlin also noticed a small purple spot had appeared on her baby’s neck.

After describing the symptoms, the doctor told her it sounded serious and an ambulance would be despatched immediately to take Isla to hospital.

Around 15 to 20 minutes later, a paramedic from North West Ambulance Service arrived at her home on Lloyd Place in a fast response vehicle and went upstairs to see Isla.

Miss McLoughlin, 40, said she was then gobsmacked when he suggested her baby simply had a virus and shouldn’t be taken to hospital.

He then called the GP surgery on his mobile phone, arguing first with the receptionist and then with Isla’s mum about where the tot should be taken.

“He was saying she just had a viral infection and why do I think she needs to go to hospital where she might spread the infection?,” Miss McLoughlin said.

“I explained I’d called the out-of- hours GP but he said he didn’t think she needs to go to hospital. All this time, it turns out my daughter was slipping away.”

After about 10 minutes he relented and took mum and baby to the Countess, warning that they faced a lengthy wait in A&E.

But minutes after arriving a nurse spotted Isla and called for an emergency response team.

“They were amazing,” Miss McLoughlin said. “One of the nurses told me later that they could see sepsis developing in front of their eyes and it was a race against time.”

Isla was stabilised at the Countess before being transferred to Alder Hey where she spent four days. She was then moved back to the Chester hospital for a further three days. She’s now fighting fit.

Miss McLoughlin said she wanted to warn other parents about the dangers of sepsis and also raised concerns about the NHS's high-profile message about relieving pressure on hospitals.

“I know they’re trying to get the message across about not going to hospital unless it’s absolutely necessary but this was clearly necessary,” said Miss McLoughlin, who works as a chef at a nursery.

“I didn't want to be arguing the toss with him about whether my daughter needs to be taken to hospital, especially when it was a doctor who called the ambulance. He should just have done what that doctor said.”

She added: “I can’t fault the care and compassion from the teams at the Countess and Alder Hey – and I can’t thank them enough.”

A spokesman for North West Ambulance Service said: “We’re glad to hear Isla’s now back on the mend and very sorry to hear her family are not happy with the care and advice she received from us.

“We do take complaints of this nature very seriously and urge Isla’s family to get in contact with our patient experience team who will do a full investigation into the incident.”

* Sepsis, septicaemia and blood poisoning:

Although sepsis is often referred to as either blood poisoning or septicaemia, these terms refer to the invasion of bacteria into the bloodstream.

Sepsis can affect multiple organs or the entire body, even without blood poisoning or septicaemia.

Sepsis can also be caused by viral or fungal infections, although bacterial infections are by far the most common cause.

Go straight to A&E or call 999 if your child has any of these symptoms:

  • looks mottled, bluish or pale
  • is very lethargic or difficult to wake
  • feels abnormally cold to touch
  • is breathing very fast
  • has a rash that does not fade when you press it
  • has a fit or convulsion

[Source: NHS Choices]

Email:

steve.creswell@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the Chester Leader

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