Parents of 5-year-old who died of meningitis pushing for awareness

Hannah and Jamie Smart received a settlement after their 5-year-old, who was misdiagnosed with having a stomach bug, died from meningitis. <em>(Photo: Getty)</em>
Hannah and Jamie Smart received a settlement after their 5-year-old, who was misdiagnosed with having a stomach bug, died from meningitis. (Photo: Getty)

The parents of a young child who tragically died from meningitis after being misdiagnosed three times have been awarded a five-figure settlement — and now they want other parents to be aware of the symptoms of the infection.

Hannah and Jamie Smart, from Bristol, U.K., stated that it “cripples them” knowing that their 5-year-old daughter, Kelsey, could have been saved. The little girl fell ill on Feb. 25, 2012, before tragically passing away less than 48 hours later.

It all began with Kelsey vomiting throughout the night; she was very tired and developed a rash on her leg and abdomen. Her mom called an after-hours GP service who told her to give the young girl a rehydration medicine.

But Kelsey’s symptoms continued and she was taken to an after-hours hospital, where a doctor examined her. Hannah told the inquest that the doctor “pressed the rash” with his finger and claimed it was caused by viral gastroenteritis. He apparently told the family it’d be best if they took their daughter home, and if she was still sick the following day, they should take her to their family doctor.

The next morning, Kelsey’s parents drove her to their general practitioner, who looked her over before reiterating something similar to what the previous doctor stated: that the rash was linked to the virus. The doctor simply said to bring Kelsey back by 4 p.m. if there was no change.

ALSO SEE: ‘It started with a rash’: Three-year-old’s brave battle with meningococcal

Later that afternoon, Kelsey had a “fit” in the car as she was being driven to the hospital. She was taken to the emergency room at Bristol Children’s Hospital, where doctors discovered she had Group B meningococcal meningitis, a bacterial strain of meningitis. They performed emergency surgery and drained fluid from the child’s brain – but it was too late.

In a statement read out to Flax Bourton Coroner’s Court, Hannah said that Kelsey had been let down buy the doctors who treated her.

“We miss Kelsey every day and want as many positive things to come out of her death as possible,” the grieving mom said. “I believe now she had signs and symptoms pointing to meningitis but doctors missed those continuously.”

Although the doctor who examined Kelsey at the out-of-hours surgery didn’t admit liability, the case has finally been settled out of court.

Hannah and Jamie Smart are now hoping to make other parents aware of the symptoms of meningitis.

“If we can make just one more person aware then it’s worth it.” Hannah said. “I don’t want any other parents to have to go through what we have.”

Meningitis is when the membranes around the brain and spinal cord are inflamed. Bacterial meningitis is a severe form of the infection and it can spread through the throat and respiratory secretions (kissing, coughing, etc.). It’s important for it to be treated promptly (i.e. with antibiotics) or it can lead to brain damage or death.

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