2 year old died from meningitis whilst wrongly diagnosed as swine flu

Georgia Keeling died after ‘wrong’ swine flu diagnosis

Georgia Keeling died soon after she was admitted to hospital

2 October 2012 Last updated at 15:05

A two-year-old girl who had meningitis was wrongly diagnosed with swine flu hours before her death, an inquest has heard.

Georgia Keeling, from Norwich, died at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on 4 August 2009.

Giving evidence at Norwich Coroner’s Court, her mother Natasha said a paramedic who believed the toddler had swine flu turned an ambulance away.

The East of England Ambulance Service has apologised over the death.

A post-mortem examination showed Georgia had died from septicaemia.

The inquest heard her older sister, Charlie, had earlier been correctly diagnosed with swine flu.

Natasha Keeling said: “They gave me some Tamiflu and I was told all I had to do was get her temperature down.”


However, Georgia’s condition deteriorated throughout 4 August, the inquest heard.


Ms Keeling said: “I went to the toilet and she screamed out ‘Mum’ to me. She sounded really distressed.

“Her eyes were glazed over and she wasn’t breathing. I was trying to resuscitate her.”

The inquest heard an ambulance arrived at about 16:00 BST. Georgia was subsequently taken to hospital, but was pronounced dead at 16:24.

The toddler’s father Paul Sewell said he had previously called NHS Direct and carried out a meningitis “glass test” on the rash, but staff said it was “probably a virus”.

Georgia had seemed healthy and happy until two days before her death, Ms Keeling said.

But on 3 August she developed a high temperature, was “off her food” and was restless when she went to bed.

Ms Keeling contacted Norwich’s West Earlham surgery but no appointments were available for two days.

The family was advised to call a swine flu hotline and staff on the hotline believed the presence of the rash meant it was unlikely to be swine flu.

Ms Keeling then decided to call 999 and the first ambulance arrived at about noon but paramedics decided Georgia did not need to go to hospital.
‘Pandemic proportions’

A statement on behalf of East of England Ambulance Service, which was read at the inquest, said: “The ambulance trust does recognise there have been shortcomings in this case and has apologised to the family.”

It added that action had been taken to prevent future tragedies.

Paramedic Patricia Perfect said she visited the family’s home and made the swine flu diagnosis after a 45-minute examination.

She ruled out meningitis because the rash disappeared when pressed.

“I went on the history of vomiting, the fact she was having pains and she also had a high temperature,” she added.

“Swine flu was at pandemic proportions and most clinicians at that time, if presented with those symptoms, would have come up with the same diagnosis.

“I told Georgia’s mother that, if anything got worse, she should call 999.

“At that time it appeared to be a fairly routine matter. It is very difficult to diagnose meningitis.”

The inquest continues.

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