The mum of a four-year-old boy who was treated in hospital for suspected Strep A has criticised doctors, claiming they initially dismissed her concerns.
Harrison suffered crippling stomach pains and cellulitis in his foot amid fears he was suffering from the potentially deadly infection.
Mum Nicole said their two-week ordeal saw them make a series of attempts to see the GP and four trips to A&E at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow – two of which were within hours of each other as his body temperature rocketed above 40C.
Strep A has claimed the lives of 15 children around the UK in recent weeks, although none have been recorded in Scotland despite hundreds of cases.
‘It was scary’
Harrison was taken by ambulance to the hospital on November 18 after his mum called NHS 24.
She told STV News: “He woke up screaming, doubled over in pain and then I saw the red mark on his leg. I knew straight away it was cellulitis. I called 101 and they told us to get an ambulance. It was scary.
“I was adamant he needed his bloods done when we got there. He had red lips, rosy cheeks, and his infection markers were up at 167, when they should be around ten.”
A consultant at the hospital told Harrison’s parents he had Strep A, but Nicole said they had not yet received official test results to confirm the diagnosis.
The four-year-old was given IV antibiotics and was discharged four days later.
Nicole said Harrison first began experiencing a cough in mid-November and became lethargic, regularly falling asleep at dinner time.
His condition was dismissed as a viral infection by a GP over the phone.
They were so desperate to secure an in-person appointment that she told receptionists they would wait at the surgery until he could be seen.
“If he was tested at the doctor’s when it started, this wouldn’t have happened,” she said. “We had to basically beg for a face-to-face appointment.”
What is Strep A?
Strep A bacteria can cause many different infections, ranging from minor illnesses to serious and deadly diseases.
The bacteria are commonly found in the throat and on the skin, and some people have no symptoms.
Infections cause by Strep A include the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat. Scarlet fever in particular has seen a recent surge in cases.
While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria cause life-threatening illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease.
‘I’m waiting for answers’
Harrison is currently back at school and on the mend, but his mum believes he has been “traumatised” by the prospect of another doctor’s visit.
“I never got the answers I was looking for,” she said. “We were just told over and over he was good to go home,” she said. “He was struggling a lot and it was scary.
“Seeing Strep A on the news brings me to tears, realising how lucky we were. Some people might have left their kids being checked over because they don’t want to bother the doctor.
“He has been neglected. I would feel better if the NHS came out and said what they should have done so it can’t happen to any other families. I want an apology that shows it’s not me being crazy or paranoid.”
A NHSGGC spokesman said: “We are sorry Ms Tiffoney was unhappy with her son’s care experience. Due to patient confidentiality, we are unable to comment on individual cases, however, we are confident that our teams offered appropriate treatment in this instance.
“Strep A is fairly common infection and clinicians in all our services follow local and national guidelines appropriately, along with recent guidance from Public Health Scotland.
“If you or your child is unwell and you are concerned, particularly if they have a persistent high temperature, the first thing to do is, during the day, phone your GP surgery and they can give you advice.
“And in the out-of-hours period – evenings, overnights and at weekends – phone NHS24 on 111. There is also up-to-date information on the NHS Inform website.”
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