"Misdiagnosis in the ED"

About: Karratha Health Campus

(as a parent/guardian),

I wasn't going to write my opinion, however, it has been playing on my mind and I would hate for another family to go through it. We attended my GP with my infant baby who sent us straight to the ED as my child had what seemed like seizures. We got seen a few hours later by a new ED doctor I believe, who diagnosed my baby with an ear and throat infection and put them on antibiotics. I questioned the seizures and the doctor said most likely febrile. In regards to the seizures, they told me to go back to my GP if they continued.

So I went back to my GP the next morning, they gave me a letter to be seen by a pediatrician straight away as the episodes were of high concern and I believe there was no sign of any ear infection or throat infection, no temp etc. Went to ED again and was made sit in a waiting room for around 5.5hrs as it was not triaged as urgent although my baby was having seizures in the waiting room full of people.

Finally we got seen after I raised my concern to the triage nurse and got seen by the same doc as the day before (as I believe there was no Paed onsite) and they were like, oh you're back. I presented them with a video I recorded of my baby having a seizure as I felt like I was not being believed as the day before I was told it was an ear and throat infection. I stated that I wanted my baby checked again and wow my baby had, I believe, no sign of an ear or throat infection. The doctor's reply was, no infection I was sure there was sorry!. How can you misdiagnosis that? you would think as a parent we could trust a medical professional. One failed attempt to cannula my child then another doctor tried and succeeded however I believe they didn't withdraw enough blood to run a test which I found out the next day. 

Dr. Anand came to see us at night (he was lovely) and we were admitted to the ward and had the most amazing doctor. Dr. Sarah who kept us informed with everything, and was, I believe, in continuous contact to PCH. However, because we were ignored the first time we visited ED we ran into the long weekend which put a delay on everything. However, Sarah was extremely informative and kept us in the loop. We then had to do a non-sterile urine sample, however, a few days later (after we were transferred to Perth) I got a call to say that the scientist "forgot" to freeze the sample so it was no good.

My main concern was that the doctor who was not concerned about what I came in about and how they could misdiagnose an ear and throat infection is beyond me (I was also told the amoxicillin dosage prescribed was quite high so must have been a bad infection). 


Response from Helen Fullarton, A/Operations Manager, West Pilbara, WA Country Health Service (WACHS) Pilbara 2 weeks ago
Helen Fullarton
A/Operations Manager, West Pilbara,
WA Country Health Service (WACHS) Pilbara
Submitted on 25/03/2020 at 11:59
Published on Care Opinion at 12:01

Dear firemf85,

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with us. I was saddened to read your story and I am very sorry that this happened to you.

The experience you have described is not the expected level of care anyone should receive when presenting to an emergency department (ED).

At Karratha Health Campus (KHC) ED there is a triage process in place that assures that patients are seen based on their urgency; the same principles apply to the transferring out of patients, regardless of public holidays. I am concerned that this process did not occur according to our established systems and I would like to look into this further. I would also like to look into the clinical and communication aspects surrounding your baby’s initial diagnosis in the ED.

I would greatly appreciate it if you could reach out to me at Helen.Fullarton@health.wa.gov.au or 9144 7630, so that I can learn more about what happened. If you’re happy to do this, it will help us to identify any problems with our service and prevent what happened to you from happening to another family.

Also, thank you for recognising the standard of care and communication that both the paediatrician and general ward doctor extended to you. I sincerely hope that your experience with these clinicians has shown you that you can rely on and trust in the medical professionals at KHC.

I wish your baby a speedy recovery and the best of health. I hope to hear from you soon.

Kind regards

Helen Fullarton

Acting Operations Manager, West Pilbara

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