October 5, 2017 3.15 pm This story is over 50 months old

Lincolnshire mum claims son’s meningitis rash was ‘dismissed’ as virus

She claims lessons are not being learned.

A Lincolnshire mum fears lessons are not being learned in the county’s hospitals after claiming her son’s meningitis rash was ‘dismissed’ as a virus.

Anna Miller, who works in education and is from Sleaford, has raised her concerns following the initial ‘misdiagnosis’ of her son Joseph’s rash in 2016.

Joseph had a rash that started on his back

After reading on Lincolnshire Reporter about Jessica Mustafa, whose six-week-old son Maliki was forced to wait over six hours in A&E before being diagnosed with meningitis, Anna felt that although she was happy with her son’s care once he was diagnosed, she did not want other parents go through what she had to.

Anna said she felt compelled to share her story, suggesting in terms of diagnosis, both stories were ‘very similar’.

In February 2016, five-year-old Joseph developed symptoms of a stomach bug, including sickness, a high temperature, cold hands and feet and an inability to keep liquids down. He also had a faint rash appearing on his back.

After taking him to Sleaford Medical Group, he was sent straight to the paediatric ward at Lincoln County Hospital.

Anna told Lincolnshire Reporter: “The nurse practitioner at Sleaford Medical Group was fantastic and I will forever be grateful that he took me seriously, assessed my son quickly and rang ahead to the Lincoln County Hospital to book my son straight into the paediatric ward.

Joseph spent five days in hospital

“On arrival (at hospital), Joe was taken to the paediatric ward quickly where he was assessed.

“He was now incredibly sleepy, still vomiting and had a temperature.

“The rash that had started on my son’s back had now spread to his torso and arms and legs.

“I continually checked the rash, concerned that it had spread, that my son had never had a rash before and that two of the spots were not blanching as the other spots were.”

This is when the registrar, who Anna claims misdiagnosed her son’s condition, came to assess him.

She said: “The registrar examined my son’s rash. I pointed out two of the spots which were larger than the others and were not blanching.

“The registrar looked at them and the rest of his rash and said he was sure it was just a viral rash.

“He then said that because my son’s temperature had responded to the medication, we could take him home and continue to give Ibuprofen and Calpol.

“I reiterated how concerned I was about how unwell my son seemed and that he had never been as unwell before. The registrar was then, I felt, quite dismissive.

“He said that Joe was too well in himself for there to be anything seriously wrong; the rash was viral and that he would discharge us with a slip for 24 hour return access should we need it.”

The rash continued to spread

Anna then said that the registrar left, leaving the worried family with a nurse, who suggested they stay for a couple more hours for Joseph to be monitored further.

She added: “She confided in me that if it was her son, she wouldn’t want to take him home either.

“Joe continued to be very unwell over the next hour and a half that followed. His temperature quickly rose again, he was very sleepy and the rash was continuing to spread.

“The registrar examined my son again and I talked to him again about my concerns regarding how unwell my son seemed and the non-blanching spots.

“He said that all he could do was do a blood test to rule out anything sinister but that he felt I was putting my son through unnecessary distress and discomfort.

“When he left, I cried and asked my husband whether we were doing the right thing or whether we should just go home. I felt terrible that maybe I was overreacting and putting my son through unnecessary pain.”

Joseph in the play room at Lincoln County Hospital

Anna continued: “The registrar said it was a good job we hadn’t taken him home but that he was still sure that because he was ‘too well in himself’ it was nothing too serious.

“He mentioned meningitis but said he thought it was highly unlikely.

“A cannula was inserted and antibiotics were administered immediately through the drip, along with fluids. It was explained to me that they were giving Joe a very strong antibiotic that would clear any infection in his system and that he would need two more blood tests, one in the night and one in the early hours of the morning.

“It was explained to me that the next blood test would show whether Joe needed to have a lumbar puncture. My husband and I were terrified.”

“The rash continued to spread over Joe’s body, including his feet and groin and many of the first spots had now turned into purplish bruises.

“Within two days, a doctor came to tell me that my son’s full blood results were back and it was confirmed that he had meningococcal septicaemia Type B (meningitis).

Joseph spent five days in hospital before being allowed home with his cannula in.

Anna said that she was forever grateful to the doctors and nurses who treated her son.

She added that she had not made a complaint about the registrar as she was so relieved that her son had recovered.

However, reading the experiences of other mums in the county, she felt that she had to share her story.

She said: “I feel that parents’ views and concerns about the health of their children are not taken seriously enough by some medical professionals.

“Parents really do know their children best and must be listened to. I am concerned that again, a rash was far too quickly dismissed.

“I am incredibly concerned that important lessons are not being learned with regards to diagnosing meningococcal infections/sepsis.

“We are the lucky ones. We got to take home a well and happy child. Our story could have had a very different ending.”

Deborah Flatman, matron for children’s community services at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We are disappointed to hear that Mrs Miller is not satisfied with the treatment her son received but as we have never received a formal complaint from the family about their concerns we would not have been able to offer an apology.

“If the family would like to get in touch with us, we would be able to investigate their concerns.”

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