LOSS: Lilli Sweet had to wait.
LOSS: Lilli Sweet had to wait. Contributed

Paediatric ward's failure to act cost Lilli Sweet's life

THE doctor in charge of Nambour Hospital's paediatric ward did not see Lilli Sweet until 21 hours after the youngster entered the Emergency Department on August 25, 2013, because she was too busy with other priorities.

Dr Ashleigh Sullivan, who was the principal house officer on duty, told the Maroochydore Coroner's Court yesterday that every opportunity to see Lilli had been overwhelmed by a range of other issues including a five-week-old baby in a life-threatening condition, an emergency with a newborn at Gympie Hospital about which she offered advice, and a 10-month-old with a history of a life-threatening heart condition.

Six-year-old Lilli Sweet's condition deteriorated to the point where she was eventually transferred to the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane, where she died in her mother's arms on August 27, 2013.

Dr Sullivan said that at the time she had been confident she was coping with the workload but every time she intended to see Lilli, something else happened.

Dr Sullivan said she felt sick when she eventually saw a referral letter from Lilli's general practitioner that outlined the young girl's lengthy medical history.

READ: Why did she die? Coast family in search for answers

Lilli had a hereditary condition called spherocytosis which had required her spleen to be removed, leaving her vulnerable to infection.

The referral letter from her GP said Lilli was suffering progressive headaches and neck pain and asked for basic blood tests and consultation with a paediatrician.

She was sent to the hospital because it was a Sunday and it would be easier to get the blood tests done there.

William Sweet with a picture of his granddaughter Lilli.
William Sweet with a picture of his granddaughter Lilli.

A procedure that should have been done in the Emergency Ward was not carried out until 9.15pm.

The results were known before midnight, showing an extraordinarily high white cell count, which should have precipitated the immediate administration of antibiotics.

Instead, antibiotics were not given until 10am the next day, by which time Lilli was at the point of no return.

Dr Sullivan said if she had received the referral letter, which was at the hospital, she would have asked for blood to be taken for testing several hours before when it was eventually done and she would have given Lilli anti-biotics. She said given what she now knew, she would have asked for a full blood count with an understanding of the white cell count being a high priority.

Initial results from the tests would have been available within two hours.

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