Welwyn Garden City one-year-old loses foot after sepsis misdiagnosis

PUBLISHED: 16:59 21 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:59 21 August 2018

Scarlett after the sepsis.

Scarlett after the sepsis.


A Welwyn Garden City mother has warned parents to look out for sepsis symptoms after her one-year-old daughter lost a foot following a misdiagnosis.

Scarlett before the sepsis.Scarlett before the sepsis.

Natalie Atkins’ daughter Scarlett was taken to the New QEII Hospital after the youngster developed a red pin-prick rash on her torso, a cough and high temperature.

She said doctors thought Scarlett most likely had a sore throat and viral rash and sent her home with antibiotics – but following a bad night her mother became increasingly concerned.

Natalie said: “When I picked Scarlett up in the morning, I noticed she was very floppy and seemed to be moving from side to side.

“I rang the GP at 9.30am and was given an appointment for 12pm. Shortly after this, Scarlett’s lips began to turn blue and she was having to work hard to breathe.”

The doctor saw the youngster and diagnosed her with septic shock – a life-threatening condition that occurs when sepsis causes a patient’s blood pressure to drop – and immediately called an ambulance.

She was eventually transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Natalie was told her daughter may die.

For the next three weeks Scarlett received intensive treatment, but the infection was already so bad that her left foot and the tip of a finger had to be amputated.

She has been left with extensive scarring and skin grafts, and is likely to require several more surgeries in the future.

Natalie said: “If there’s just one message that I could get over to parents, it would be this: be aware of the symptoms of sepsis, and if you think your child is exhibiting any of the signs, then call 999 and ask about sepsis.

“Time is of the essence – the faster you get a diagnosis the better. Delay could result in your child suffering life-changing injuries, or worse still prove fatal.

“We wouldn’t want other families to go through a similar experience; we’re lucky that Scarlett survived, but our lives have been changed forever.”

If a child has a fever or has had one in the last 24 hours, or at the other extreme, a very low temperature, then the advice from the Sepsis Trust UK is to ring 999 and just ask: ‘could it be sepsis?’. A child may have it if they are breathing very fast, having a fit, look bluish or pale, have a rash that doesn’t fade when pressed, is lethargic, or feels abnormally cold.

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