A six-year-old boy died of Sepsis after doctors repeatedly sent him home with Calpol, an inquest heard.
Connor Horridge, from Wigan, Greater Manchester, began complaining of an ear ache and sickness so his parents gave him medication and fluids, believing it was an infection that would eventually pass.
Five days later he was rushed to the doctor’s surgery after his symptoms worsened but the family were told it was ‘nothing to be majorly concerned about’ and it would ‘probably’ be a viral infection.
In less than 24 hours, Connor was taken to hospital as an emergency with a dangerously high temperature but was again discharged, advised to continue taking Calpol and told ‘he would get better’, Bolton Coroner’s Court heard.
Four days passed and on December 18, 2016, Connor was taken to hospital again after collapsing and shouting ‘mummy, my legs’.
Despite the best efforts of medical staff Connor passed away later that evening.
The youngster’s parents, Joanne and Thomas Horridge, 34 and 38, believe that if the doctors examined Connor ‘properly’, there could have been an ‘entirely different’ outcome.
They claim that it was only after Connor’s death the hospital took a blood test and saw that his white blood cells had gone ‘through the roof’.
There were ‘accepted missed opportunities’ on the part of the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan, with consultant paediatrician, Dr Martin Farrier, admitting that a senior doctor should have been called to have a consultation with Connor the second time he presented.
But the pathologist who examined Connor’s body confirmed that no one could have predicted the outcome as the infection took over so ‘rapidly’.
Dr Melanie Newbold, who assisted with the post mortem said: ‘Sepsis can be lethal. Sepsis can be aggressive and angry, especially towards a young child.
‘We all have bacteria in our blood, however, this kind of bacteria cannot be controlled and therefore changes rapidly out of control and can cause septicaemia. There is no way of protecting against it.
‘Whilst we were looking at Connor’s body, we saw that he did have a number of viruses at the time, but none of them would have contributed to his death. He appeared to be a healthy boy.’
Dr Newbold continued: ‘There was no suggestion that previous doctors would have known this outcome.
‘When he was seen on December 11 they were right in diagnosing him with a viral infection.
‘I believe when he collapsed he went into septic shock, meaning that his body began to shut down. In Greater Manchester, only three or four children have died from this devastating infection.
‘Many people’s organs shut down and their heart slows down too. This is a lethal and aggressive disease and is something we have not been able to master, nor prevent, due to the severity of it’s symptoms.’
Giving evidence at the Bolton hearing, Mr Horridge said: ‘He had a bright and bubbly personality, he was boisterous, loud, energetic. He had everything to live for.
‘You can see in the before and after pictures how much he changed within those days.
Mr Horridge added: ‘On Thursday December 8 2016 Connor was complaining of ear ache in his left ear. He had a bit of a temperature and had started feeling sick. Measuring on the thermometer he was around 38 degrees.
‘He was complaining how much his ear hurt. Initially we thought it was an ear infection. We used Calpol and gave him lots of water. We decided to keep him off school by this point with the intention that when he was better, we could take him back.
‘We were told to give him Calpol and fluids and if he wasn’t better within four days then ring him back for a check-up. There were two physicians at the time who examined him and both gave the same diagnosis and advice.
‘He continued to be sick, he had already been vomiting since Thursday and could keep nothing down. He was even bringing up fluids. He was still like this by Tuesday (December 13).
‘On the Sunday (December 18) he looked at me and gave me a wry smile and managed to eat two pieces of pasta. He was sat on the sofa, his head lolling about, his eyes rolling and still being sick.
‘I started to panic again as his temperature had flown up and he was hot to the touch. We went outside to get in the car and he just said “Mummy, my legs” and he collapsed. They just gave way under him.
‘I had to pick him up and carry him back inside. I called an ambulance straight away, he was in a lot of pain and crying.
‘I just remember hearing ‘code red, possible sepsis’ and they rushed him to the hospital. 45 minutes we were there and they tried to bring him round, but he fell unconscious, the doctors were doing all they could, but he passed away that evening.
‘Our concerns are that if the doctors would have examined Connor properly, this could have had an entirely different outcome for our son. They don’t currently conduct blood tests on children as they believe it will hurt them and make them upset, but it could have saved our little boy’s life.’
Connor’s medical cause of death was recorded as 1A Group A Streptococcal Septicaemia.
Dr Martin Farrier, a consultant paediatrician, explained that by the time he was diagnosed it was ‘too late’.
He said: ‘In my experience sepsis takes 24 hours to invade the body, but this usually happens within a 12 hour time window, so I believe Connor got poorly overnight, and that was when he contracted the sepsis.
Recording a natural causes conclusion, Coroner Timothy Brennand, said: ”Connor was a bright, energetic, funny little boy who loved life and I have no doubt that he was at his happiest when he was with you, his parents.
‘I am very sorry we had to meet in these circumstances. I can only hope that you have got some peace of knowing that the doctors did everything they could.’
After the inquest, Ms Horridge, said: ‘His death showed he had done something with his life. I’m glad his death mattered for something and will help other children. I feel he’s got justice.
‘He wouldn’t want us to be crying and upset, he’d want us to be laughing and happy. He was my brave little boy. He was such a little rascal. Such a little hero, he was my little soldier and I’ll love him forever.’