Ipswich: Hospital forced to make changes after toddler’s meningitis death

IPSWICH: Ipswich Hospital has today admitted at an inquest that they made changes to their practices in light of the death of a two-year-old girl from meningitis.

Rhianna Warner from Ipswich died on New Year’s Eve 2009 at Ipswich Hospital. The youngster had developed a high temperature and when she started shivering, her parents took her to the Riverside clinic.

Concerned at her high temperature doctors referred her to the Heath Road hospital. She was discharged at 2am on December 31 2009 after presenting with fever in the middle of the night. Although her temperature was high, it was starting to come down, an inquest heard.

After taking her home and going to bed her mum Danielle Watchman noticed a rash on her daughter’s body and Rhianna was taken back to hospital to the accident and emergency department by 7.27am.

The inquest heard how the two-year-old went into cardiac arrest in A&E and was revived before a second cardiac arrest. Rhianna died at 10.04am - around 12 hours after first seeing doctors.

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Coroner Dr Peter Dean told the inquest held at IP-City today that the cause of Rhianna’s death was meningococcal septicaemia.

He said: “We need to look in terms of the management of the case and if anything could have been done differently in the circumstances.”

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Dr Dean said in summary it would have been wiser to admit Rhianna due to the time of her discharge. If she had been admitted the chance of detecting her worsening symptoms would have been greater. She developed a widespread rash by 7.27am when her parents took her back to A&E and had the rash been noticed, antibiotics would have been given, it was heard.

Dr Pravin Desai, consultant paediatrician, agreed. However he said it is impossible to know if the outcome would have been different.

He added that now they make every effort to keep a child in Rhianna’s condition in hospital if it is the middle of the night, unless there is an acute bed shortage – in which case NICE guidelines are followed and advice is given. Parents also have open access to bring children back to hospital.

The youngster became the second Ipswich child to die from suspected meningitis in a two week period.

Speaking at the time distraught mum Miss Watchman said: “She was the most beautiful, special little girl you could wish for.”

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