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Girl, 4, died of sepsis after 'missed opportunities' at hospitals

The parents of a four-year-old who died from sepsis following ‘missed opportunities’ by doctors have paid tribute to their ‘caring little girl’.

Eva Hayden, from Kirkby, collapsed weeks after Christmas in 2019, and was rushed to the emergency department at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

Despite attempts by her father and paramedics to resuscitate her, she was unable to be revived.

‘We remember Eva as such a caring little girl and in her short life she loved to help people,’ mum Michelle said.

‘Even at nursery, when there was a little girl struggling to settle, Eva took her under her wing to the point that the little girl would only come into nursery when Eva was there.’

In the month leading up to her death, Eva visited two hospitals after developing an infection in her left foot in October 2019.

She was initially taken to Ormskirk District General Hospital, before being transferred to Alder Hey where she was discharged with oral antibiotics.

Blood tests found she has neutropenia – a low white blood cell count which can increase the chance of infection – and she three further tests the following month saw the levels remained low yet no further action was taken by hospitals.

In January 2020, Eva fell unwell after developing a fever, rash across her chest and limbs, and pain in her feet.

Her parents first took her to Kirkby walk-in centre before being advised to go straight to A&E at Alder Hey, where she was discharged with a virus.

The girl’s condition worsened just days later and she passed away, with the cause of death ruled as sepsis and bone marrow hypoplasia.

Coroner Andre Rebello said there had been ‘missed opportunities’ by doctors at Ormskirk General Hospital and Alder Hey as he called for changes to prevent future fatalities.

The two hospitals have since apologised for ‘poor communication’ admitting there had been a ‘number of failings’, and lessons had been learned.

Michelle said the family felt let down by doctors who did not warn them about the severity of their daughter’s condition.

‘It’s really hard to believe a doctor did not sit us down to discuss this with us, and how things could have been different. If we had known, we would have done everything possible to ensure our little girl received the right treatment. 

‘We cannot believe how poor the hospitals’ attitude was with such a serious condition. They were so blase, and at no point did we feel Eva’s health was in danger from this condition.’

A spokesperson for Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation is extremely sorry for the communication failures which led to Eva’s death. Both hospital trusts made early admissions of liability in this tragic case, and we would like to express our deepest sympathy to Eva’s family. Investigations identified a number of failings and both trusts have learnt from this devastating case to avoid similar mistakes being made in the future.’

A spokesperson for Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust said: ‘The Trust offers its sincere condolences to Eva’s family for their devastating loss. Following Eva’s death, an immediate and thorough investigation was carried out and action plans have been implemented to ensure lessons have been learned.’

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