Toddler 'lucky to be alive' after misdiagnosis

IT'S every mother's nightmare that a misdiagnosis could risk her child's life.

Yeppoon toddler, two-year-old Willow Urquhart, is lucky to be alive after suffering a perforated appendix that could have been avoided.

Diagnosing medical conditions in very young children can be difficult but Rheanna Urquhart was left wondering how her daughter's symptoms could have been missed.

"The surgeon at Rockhampton and anaesthetist both told me I'm very lucky my daughter is alive and I'm responsible for saving her life.

"Her abdominal cavity was full of pus and her stomach was gangrenous," said Ms Urquhart.

Willow Urquhart presented at Yeppoon Hospital on Thursday, January 31, with a fever and sore stomach.

She had been lethargic and sleeping all day.

Ms Urquhart said medical staff saw to Willow straight away but sent her home with the standard advice of paracetamol and fluids.

"The next day I took her back and we were there almost three hours."

When Willow woke up on Saturday morning vomiting blood, her mother called an ambulance immediately and went to Yeppoon Hospital for the third day in a row.

Three different doctors had seen to Willow but by Saturday, no-one knew what was wrong. Blood was taken but not tested in Yeppoon and a decision was made to transfer the toddler to Rockhampton.

Ms Urquhart said she had arrived at Yeppoon Hospital at 8.30am, but there was absolutely no urgency to transfer Willow.

"We didn't get to Rocky until 1.15pm."

Once in Rockhampton, Willow's blood was tested and an ultrasound and x-ray were ordered immediately.

At two o'clock, only 45 minutes after arriving, Willow was in theatre with a perforated appendix.

Instead of keyhole surgery, she needed a 15cm incision, more than 20 staples and a drain and spent a week in hospital.

Ms Urquhart met with Dr Scott Cooling and Rhylla Webb, head of nursing at Yeppoon Hospital, who she said "apologised and asked what I thought could have been done if it was to happen again with another child."

Dr Scott Cooling, director of Medical Services at the Capricorn Coast Hospital and Health Service, said he would like to apologise to the Urquhart family for any distress they felt over the treatment of Willow.

"I am pleased to hear she is now on the road to recovery.

"The diagnosis and treatment of toddlers is complex as they are still learning to communicate, and appendicitis is a very rare condition in a child of this age," he said.

"Young children often look well and may not have many symptoms until their illness is well progressed, when their condition can rapidly deteriorate.

"Willow was seen promptly each time she was brought to hospital and was thoroughly examined on each occasion.

"When she re-presented with symptoms indicating a more severe illness, arrangements were made to transfer her to Rockhampton.

"The specialist surgical team confirmed our potential diagnosis and she was treated accordingly," he said.



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