Girl, 4, died of meningitis after doctor said she had a 'bad cold'
A four-year-girl died from meningitis after doctors repeatedly dismissed her symptoms as a cold, her distraught mother claims.
Morgan Phelan was rushed to A & E suffering from a high temperature and a rash all over her body, which are tell-tale signs of the potentially fatal condition.
She had to wait four hours before a doctor examined her because of a shortage of staff working on the children's ward at Good Hope Hospital, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands.
And when she was finally seen at 11.30pm on January 17, she was so ill she was asleep when a doctor examined her. He then told her mother Gemma she was suffering from a 'bad cold' and told her to go home.
The next day Morgan's condition deteriorated but when Gemma rang the hospital for advice she was told not to bring her in because her temperature was not high enough.
But on Saturday, January 19, Gemma dialled 999 after Morgan collapsed on the sofa not breathing and was 'glassy eyed'.
Paramedics were unable to restart her heart and she was taken to Birmingham Children's Hospital where she was officially pronounced dead at 5.10pm.
Just a week after her death Harvey Ward at Good Hope Hospital was closed because of a 'lack of appropriately qualified staff'.
Hospital chiefs have now launched an investigation into staffing levels to find out if Morgan's death could have been prevented.
Gemma, 22, from Kingstanding, Birmingham, said: "Morgan was discharged at one in the morning and they told us it was a viral infection – or as one doctor told us a 'bad cold'.
"They performed the final checks while she was still asleep and sent us on our way.
"She had no clothes with her, it was snowing and she didn't even have shoes on.
"Myself and my husband don't drive so we had to wait in the snow for a taxi.
"When we got home she went straight to bed and stayed there, when we got up she didn't seem interested in getting out of bed and just lay there which wasn't like her.
"We phoned the hospital and they said 'unless her temperature has gone up please don't bring her back in'.
"On the Saturday she looked like she was getting better so I ran down the shop to get her some sweets.
"I came back and she didn't look right, she wasn't breathing properly and she wasn't responding.
"We called the ambulance and while we waited I was trying to get her to say 'mum', 'please say mum'.
"The paramedic arrived and laid her on the floor.
"He told me to get an overnight bag because when the ambulance arrived she would need to go straight to hospital.
"She was hooked up to a heart machine in the living room and it was flat-lining, I said 'Oh my God, is she dead?'
"The ambulance came and took her to the hospital, when we got there they told me she'd been declared dead.
"It wasn't until we went to our GP surgery later that we found out that she had fluid in her lungs and fluid on her spine – signs of meningitis.
"No-one had told us anything."
Gemma and husband Ryan, 27, who also have a two-year-old son Kian, believe Morgan could have survived if doctors had prescribed her with antibiotics when she was first seen in hospital.
Gemma said: "When we took her in to that hospital on January 17 she was dying and they could have done something.
"I just want answers and to know why they can't answer anything that we have asked."
An inquest has been opened and adjourned pending reports, and the hospital has launched an investigation in to Morgan's treatment.
Sue Moore, managing director for Good Hope Hospital, said: "This is a tragic case and we would like to send our sincerest condolences to the family of Morgan Phelan during this very difficult time.
"We take the care and safety of all of our patients very seriously and we are currently undertaking an investigation into Morgan's sad death which will be shared with the family.
"Unfortunately, due to patient confidentiality, we cannot comment on any individual patient's treatment."
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