The distraught mom of a 4-year-old girl who died from a meningococcal infection hours after she was sent home from hospital told a coroner: “I took her away to die.”
Gracie Foster had been due to undergo surgery to remove her tonsils at Chesterfield Royal Hospital in October 2015.
But the surgery was canceled when she became unwell on the ward.
Gracie’s mom, Michelle Foster, described how a consultant pediatrician told her Gracie had a viral infection and sent her home.
But, within hours, her daughter became much worse and was taken to Sheffield Children’s Hospital where she died the same day.
Giving evidence at an inquest in Chesterfield, Foster said Gracie seemed well before the planned operation on Oct. 21, 2015, and was excited because she was missing school and would be having treats at her grandmother’s after the operation was over.
Once in hospital, Foster said, Gracie seemed happy in the play area of the ward but she then heard a “whinge” noise from her daughter and found her sitting in the middle of the room.
She said Gracie complained of a sore throat and “seemed like she was sedated.”
When she was given pre-medication for her operation, Gracie vomited and a nurse found she had a temperature of 104 degrees, Foster said.
She said an anesthetist then told her that they could no longer do the operation but he did not examine Gracie.
Foster said she then waited 90 minutes with no-one checking Gracie before consultant pediatrician Dr. Tim Ubhi arrived.
She said Ubhi looked at Gracie’s tonsils but did not conduct any further examination.
“The doctor said she didn’t need antibiotics – she had a viral infection,” she said. “She needed paracetamol and ibuprofen.”
Foster said she was told to take her daughter home but she was “flopping” so much she had to carry her out of the hospital.
“I thought she must be all right. I took her away to die. No-one was worried about her apart from me, it seemed,” Foster told the coroner.
Foster said she left Gracie at her mother’s house, still thinking she had a minor virus.
But she later got a call saying her mother was concerned and was taking her to emergency room.
Foster said the next call she got said “she’d crashed” at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
“It was really strange to think that,” she said. “No way she was that poorly. She’s all right. She’s got a viral infection.”
She said she got the “biggest shock of my life”, when she arrived at the hospital and found Gracie was “covered in tubes, 10 people all round her, absolutely covered in a purple rash”.
“She just didn’t look like her at all. I thought ‘how has this happened?'” she said.
The coroner heard how a post-mortem examination found Gracie died of Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome caused by a meningococcal infection.
She said Gracie had brought a letter home from school three weeks before her death informing parents that a child at the school had meningitis.
Foster, who lives near Chesterfield, said she had been concerned for the young boy involved but not worried at all for her daughter as they had little contact.
And she told the coroner that the boy’s condition was nothing like what happened to Gracie.
The inquest is due to conclude on Friday.