By Annamay McNally
A CLOGHER Valley mother has urged parents to always trust their own instincts when their child is unwell, after a terrifying experience saw her baby daughter sent home from one hospital only to be rushed by ambulance to another hospital hours later.
The woman, from Fivemiletown, has described how, despite pleading with a doctor at the brand new South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen to allow their six month-old to remain for observation, she and her husband were instead told the infant was suffering from a “viral” infection and was “fit for home”.
However, in what can only be described as a nightmare for the child’s parents, their baby daughter quickly became seriously ill as she was being taken by car to Craigavon Hospital.
When the young child began shaking all over with signs that she was taking a convulsion, her frantic parents made a detour to South Tyrone Hospital’s Minor Injuries Unit in Dungannon, where staff examined her and immediately called for an ambulance.
The Fivemiletown woman, who has three other children, told the Tyrone Times how the terrifying ordeal unfolded.
“My youngest daughter was admitted to South West Acute Hospital on the morning of Monday 10th September with an extremely high temperature following a visit to her GP.
“We were admitted to the Children’s Ward and whilst there, my daughter was examined by a House Doctor on the Ward. Her breathing and pulse were very erratic and she had a very high temperature.
“Her temperature had been high for several days beforehand. I had thought that this was teething and had treated her at home, but because it was now running for as long as it was in the 40 Degrees Celsius, I knew there was something more seriously wrong.
“She had a chest x-ray and some bloods taken for testing and a venflon put into her arm. I was pleased with the nursing staff and one of the medical team (the doctor who treated my daughter on admission). “Throughout the day and all of the Monday night, her temperature continued to stay very high. Her x-ray and bloods showed ‘viral’.
“On the Tuesday morning my husband came in and was very upset because of how unwell our daughter looked and how hot she felt! Both my husband and I were extremely surprised when the consultant came in with his team and said that she had a ‘viral infection’ and was fit for home.
“He went on to say how I could administer Calpol at home. Both my husband and myself said how we were not happy at her being discharged because I knew she was not well (I have nursing experience and three other children) – but anyone would know by looking at her just how sick she was.
“When I asked if she could stay another night, I was informed she could stay for a few more hours and was granted ‘open access’ for 24 hours. Needless to say, we packed our bags and headed home!”
After going to her mother’s home in Augher, the baby girl’s condition continued to worsen, with her grandmother reporting she was extremely hot to the touch when being changed, with rapid breathing.
On telephoning her GP, the Fivemiletown woman was advised to take her daughter straight to Craigavon Hospital.
However, as she explains, her baby became worryingly ill on the journey.
“On our way there, our daughter became very unwell and started to shake all over with her eyes fluttering (possible convulsion)”, explained the woman.
“As I was bypassing Dungannon, I stopped at the hospital there, as I was extremely anxious, frightened and concerned for her and knew she was in need of medical attention.
“We went into the ‘Minor Injury Unit’ and she was examined straight away with her temperature still ferociously high.
“They called an ambulance to take us onto Craigavon Area Hospital. On arrival we were rushed into the Resuscitation Room. Doctors were waiting for us.
“Within minutes, doctors had her examined and said “she was extremely dehydrated” (this was within two hours of being discharged from South West Acute Hospital).
“They could not get a vein to put a venflon in because she was so dehydrated, so one was inserted through her head. Her body was all mottled and cold to touch but her head was hot.
“I overheard the doctors say that her body was shutting down. She was immediately started on IV antibiotics and a drip put up. All of the nursing team (nurses and doctors) were fantastic, explaining to me what they were doing and for why.
“They also carried out a few other tests and kept me informed along the way. A heart murmur was detected as well as a raw throat. We stayed for approximately two hours in resuscitation before moving to the Children’s Ward, where she continued to have IV antibiotics and fluids.
“It was diagnosed that my daughter had Bronchiolitis, Tonsillitis and severe Dehydration (all of which could have been detected at South West Acute Hospital). She stayed in Craigavon Area Hospital until the Saturday evening under the good care and attention of their nursing staff.
“I am totally appalled with the services of our brand new, expensive, state of the art hospital. My plea to other parents would be: if you are not happy, always seek a second opinion! I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t.”
The Fivemiletown mum’s comments were echoed by local councillor and Deputy Mayor of Dungannon and South Tyrone, Frances Burton.
She told the Times: “I would really urge mothers and fathers to trust their own instincts when it comes to the health of their children. All too often, doctors don’t seem to listen to mothers in particular and think that perhaps you are panicking about your child.
“A mother knows her child best and knows if they are not well. And to be in a car with a very young child who is becoming very ill very quickly, must be absolutely terrifying.
“Thankfully, in this case, the child was able to be taken by ambulance from South Tyrone Hospital on to Craigavon Hospital, and I would like to pay tribute to the staff in both places for dealing so quickly with this young baby.
“I am a mother of four myself and this must have been a horrendous episode for the family.
“Every mother should be listened to by doctors and medical personnel. The mother in this instance felt it was her place to speak up for her child and she did everything she could to ensure her baby was treated in the right way as babies cannot speak for themselves.”
A spokesperson for the Western Health and Social Care Trust told the Times: “To protect confidentiality the Trust does not comment on the care and treatment of individual patients.
“If a patient or their relative has any issue in relation to their treatment they are encouraged to raise such issues directly with staff in the first instance or through the Trust’s comments and complaints system - the Patients’ Advocate Office. The Patients’ Advocate Office can be contacted on 028 71611226.”