A baby boy was left brain damaged after bungling doctors misdiagnosed meningitis – dismissing his symptoms as a chest infection.
The parents of 11-month-old Freddie O’Driscoll rushed him to hospital after he was vomiting, wheezing and was very lethargic.
Mum Rachel Henderson, 35, told doctors she feared her son may have been struck down with meningitis.
She says she even pointed to a poster in A&E which warned parents about meningitis in babies but was told she was “overreacting.”
Freddie was diagnosed with a chest infection and gastroenteritis and Rachel and her partner Tyler O’Driscoll, 31, were told to take him home.
But hours later Rachel and Tyler, a carer, took their son back to hospital when his condition deteriorated and he was eventually diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.
His parents, from Hockley, Tamworth, Staffs., are now taking legal action against the hospital after Freddie was left brain damaged.
Full-time-mum Rachel said: “There was a poster in A&E about meningitis in babies and we tried to point this out and raise concerns but we felt like we were just being ignored and were told we were overreacting.
“Even when we took Freddie back to hospital it still seemed like we were going round in circles.
“One doctor said it couldn’t be meningitis because Freddie didn’t have a rash.
“Thankfully one doctor thought there was something sinister and arranged antibiotics and further investigations.
“If it wasn’t for that doctor Freddie may not be here today.
“I am still angry at the way the staff just seemed to be dismissive of us as his parents.
“I may not be a doctor but I know my son and knew there was something seriously wrong with him.”
Rachel and Tyler, who also have another son Alfie, became concerned about Freddie when he started vomiting and went a grey colour on September 21, 2016.
They rushed him to Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, West Mids., at 11pm where he was assessed by a nurse.
About two-and-a-half hours later he was examined by an A&E doctor but meningitis was not diagnosed.
At around 2.45am the following morning staff raised concerns that Freddie was about to exceed the four hour waiting time in A&E and wanted him transferred to a ward.
Just before 4am Freddie was transferred to a clinical assessment ward after Rachel requested a second opinion but he was discharged at around 6.30am.
Rachel and Freddie returned to hospital at 6.30pm because he had been vomiting continuously and appeared to become more lethargic.
He was given intravenous antibiotics at 12.45am on September 23 before being transferred to a different hospital after he underwent a lumbar puncture.
At 4.20pm that day the results confirmed he was suffering from meningitis and he was put into isolation.
Freddie has now returned home but has been left brain damaged and suffers from behavioural problems.
Rachel said: “We face so many challenges now following Freddie’s illness but despite this he is the most adorable little boy we could wish for.”
The couple complained to the hospital about Freddie’s treatment and a serious incident report revealed a catalogue of failings.
The report, published by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust which now runs the hospital, found there were delays in Freddie’s care.
The report stated there was a “failure to investigate for and make the diagnosis of meningitis” and that “the breakdown in the relationship between Freddie’s mother and the clinical staff meant that concerns about Freddie’s overall condition were not heard.”
Injury lawyers Irwin Mitchell are now investigating the hospital on behalf of the couple.
Lawyer Leanne Leighton, who is representing the family, said: “Through our work we often see the devastating consequences that families can be left to face because of meningitis.
“Awareness of the signs and early detection are key to beating it.
“Freddie’s illness has had a profound effect on the family and it is not fully known what long-term impact Freddie’s illness will have on his future.
“Rachel and Tyler have a number of concerns about the care Freddie received and how they felt that their concerns were ignored.
“The Trust’s own report has identified issues regarding delays and how staff dealt with what was obviously an extremely distressing time for the family.
“It is vital that staff uphold the highest standard of professionalism at all times, listen to families and treat patients and their relatives with care and compassion.”