On September 12, 2013, young Evelyn Smith, 7, died after being misdiagnosed by doctors three times in two days. One year after Evelyn’s death, her parents are still left wondering how their daughter’s ailment was overlooked.
Evelyn’s troubles started on September 11, 2013, when she woke up with a headache and a slight fever. Despite feeling under the weather, Evelyn still went to school that day. The next morning, around 2 a.m., she burst into her parents room crying and saying that she couldn’t breathe. Her parents rushed her to the emergency room at Warwick Hospital in Warwickshire, England.
Smith spent several hours in the emergency room with a high fever and vomiting. She was never diagnosed with a sickness, and her parents were given instructions on how to bring her temperature down. She was sent home.
Several hours later, with Evelyn’s fever still soaring, her mother took her to a general physician. There, a nurse examined her and prescribed her penicillin for her inflamed tonsils. She was sent home again. Later that evening, with her temperature even higher than before, her mother took her back to the general physician’s office. This time she was examined by a doctor.
The doctor diagnosed Evelyn with oxygen saturations and moderate croup, a viral infection causing inflammation of the upper airways. The doctor told Evelyn to return in a few days for another appointment. The young girl died later that evening.
Her heartbroken parents ordered a review of the doctors’ failures to diagnose Evelyn correctly. Lead reviewer Dr. Richard Brittain said that with proper care, Evelyn’s death could have been prevented.
"Evelyn Mary Smith died from the consequences of both a viral and bacterial infection of her upper respiratory tract,” Dr. Brittain said, as reported by Mirror. "Her family sought medical attention three times in the days leading up to her death. There were missed opportunities to diagnose and treat Evelyn appropriately on each of these occasions. However, I am satisfied that none of these consultations were neglectful. Based on the evidence heard, it is more likely than not that her death was preventable; although it has not been possible to conclude the causative impact of each missed opportunity.”
Helen and Trevor Smith, Evelyn’s parents, stressed the importance of being insistent with doctors when you suspect something is seriously wrong with a child’s health.
"We took her to hospital three times in three days - we repeatedly returned for medical help and that should have been a red flag to doctors and nurses,” Helen Smith said. "I don't want any other parent to go through what we have been through. Trust your instincts - if you think there's something seriously wrong, insist that it is looked at."