Boy, 5, died of sepsis hours after being sent home from A&E with stomach bug

A 'vibrant and intelligent' five-year-old boy died of sepsis just hours after being sent home with a "stomach bug", an inquest heard.

Theodore Paul Cheetham-Serjent passed away in Wigan Infirmary after twice going into cardiac arrest less than 24 hours earlier mum Paula had taken him to A&E with cold feet and hands, very hot legs, diarrhoea and a temperature.

But trainee Dr Grace Olowonyo, who examined the boy known as Theo, gave what coroner Timothy Brennand described as a 'presumptive diagnosis' of gastroenteritis (a bacterial or viral tummy bug).

Theo was given McDonald's chicken nuggets as a 'treat for being a brave boy' but as the family slept at their Hindley home he began vomiting and Paula called for an ambulance.

Paramedics immediately suspected the little boy had sepsis and gave antibiotics.

He was intubated, but by 8.20am on December 30, 2019, he had suffered a heart attack.

The five-year-old was successfully resuscitated, but just half an hour later suffered a second cardiac arrest and failed to respond to further resuscitation.

Theo was pronounced dead at 9.03am that day, Manchester Evening News reports.

Sitting at a packed Bolton Coroners Court, Mr Brennand agreed with pathologist Dr Melanie Newbold's conclusion that the cause of Theo's death was septicaemia (Neisseria meningitis Type B).

In his conclusion, the coroner alluded to concerns raised by the family.

But he said: "It is my view and my finding that the decision and the presumptive diagnosis that was made at the first presentation by Dr Olowonyo was not unreasonable in the circumstances.

"It was, of course, as we now know, an entirely erroneous diagnosis, but each of the clinicians and as shown by a review by Dr Wayne Heaven, a consultant in emergency medicine, all [medics] believed that the diagnosis was appropriate, given Theo's symptoms."

Markings and bruises on Theo's legs gave the medical team the impression that they may have been caused by him falling from a bicycle and sustaining some 'blunt force trauma'.

But Mr Brennand said this could have been a 'red herring' and may have pointed to a much more serious illness.

However, Dr Olowony did not talk to a senior colleague, did not as ask for a blood test and did not take a stool sample, all of which may have pointed to a correct diagnosis, but other doctors giving evidence said they would have done the same as the junior medic.

The inquest ruled that Theo died of natural causes and Brennand said that "Dr Olowonyo, given her status as a GP trainee doctor, did her honest and noble best" and "called it as she saw it."

Addressing the family Mr Brennand said: "I pay tribute to you for your dignity, restraint, insight, concern and the motivation behind the questions that you've put.

"You have been strident, clear and unequivocal in simply wanting to make sure that there was no trick missed, no stone left unturned, nothing that either could or should've been considered that might've saved Theo.

"Nothing that we have said today can bring Theo back. For your loss, I'm truly sorry. In those five short years Theo has touched not just you as a family, but many other people."

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