Toddler dies hours after hospital discharge

PUBLISHED: 14:31 11 October 2011 | UPDATED: 15:40 11 October 2011

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A TWO-YEAR-OLD was found dead in his bedroom just hours after being sent home from Weston General Hospital, an inquest has heard today.

Toddler Lucas Wellstead, of Rowan Place in Weston, died of septicaemia and pneumonia the morning after being assessed by medical staff at hospital’s Seashore Centre.

He had been urgently referred to the children’s ward by Weston GP Cheryl Cottrell on January 20, 2010, but was discharged later that day when meningitis tests proved negative.

An inquest into the toddler’s death began at Flax Bourton Coroners Court today.

Lucas’ parents John Wellstead and Sian Eggins heard evidence explaining how Dr Cottrell of Graham Road Surgery, had spotted what she judged a meningitis-type rash on their son’s face during Mr Wellstead’s doctor’s appointment.

The court heard Dr Cottrell became so concerned about the two-year-old that she urgently referred him to the Seashore Centre by fax and phone.

The family spent five hours at the Grange Road hospital in Uphill and Lucas, and tests revealed Lucas had abnormal respiratory and heart rate readings but despite high temperature recordings, he was sent home at about 5.30pm.

Miss Eggins said: “We got home and Lucas had a bath and put on his pyjamas. We read him a story and settled him down.

“The next morning at about 8.40am, John came in screaming saying he had found Lucas lifeless on his bedroom floor.”

Despite family attempts to resuscitate him at their Locking Castle home, and paramedics trying to save his life on the way to Weston General, Lucas could not be revived.

This morning the court also heard evidence from nurses Rhya Toney and Alicia James who were partly responsible for Lucas’ care at the hospital.

Ms Toney gave evidence saying that although the youngster’s temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate were ‘out of range’ that was ‘not unusual’ for a child who was distressed at procedures being carried out.

She added that medics often record similar observations in unwell children at the Seashore Centre.

The court also heard how Lucas suffered from a ‘floppy larynx’ which caused him to wheeze when breathing, and may have contributed to his unusual respiratory rate.

Lucas’ mother agreed it was not unusual for Lucas to wheeze when breathing.

The court also heard the toddler was given paracetamol and another set of medication at the hospital.

However, his parents say they were not given any advice on monitoring his temperature once home, despite the fact it was above normal before they left the hospital.

Lucas tested positively for an infection in his blood while at the hospital, but tests for meningitis were negative, the court heard.

The inquest is expected to last throughout today and tomorrow. The evidence continues.

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