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‘I will never set foot in MUH again’


Misdiagnosis almost killed my toddler, says mother

Michael Gallagher

A Mayo mother has pledged never to set foot in Mayo University Hospital again after a frightening episode last February left her three-year-old daughter in appalling pain and requiring life-saving surgery.
The distraught parent believes a disturbing lack of communication and cramped working conditions contributed to a terrifying experience that left her young child in grave danger.  
Speaking to The Mayo News, the mother, who wished to remain anonymous, says she pleaded with staff to recognise her daughter was suffering from appendicitis. However, a bowel problem was (incorrectly) diagnosed, and she was transferred to Dublin. Her appendix ruptured en route.
A ruptured appendix releases bacteria into the abdomen and can cause widespread infection, sepsis and even death.

‘Excruciating pain’
The saga began on Sunday, February 14, when the toddler was suffering from severe pain in her abdomen and had to be brought to MUH by ambulance.
“She was in excruciating pain, vomiting and was very unwell. My first suspicion as a parent was her appendix, as she had pain in her lower right abdomen, but I’m not a medical expert.
“When we arrived at MUH, we were left waiting outside in the ambulance for approximately 30 minutes waiting for a member of staff from A&E to come out to access my child. They had to say whether her problem was Covid-19 related or not. Anyone could tell it had nothing to do with Covid.
“We were brought inside A&E, where my daughter was put on a trolley because there were no beds in Paediatrics, or so we were told. She remained there until the early hours of Monday morning with people everywhere and noise all around her. She was in terrible pain and the situation we found ourselves made it even worse.
“A few hours later we were told to go to Paediatrics, where we found just one patient in a six-bed ward. We had been told all that night by staff there was no available beds in the Paediatrics for my child. The lack of communication was disturbing, and got worse,” the mother explained before continuing her story.
“Eventually, we were seen to, and to make a long story short, I can now say that my daughter was diagnosed incorrectly over the following few hours. She had blood tests done and an X-ray, and all the time the pain was getting worse and worse if that was possible.
“I asked if it could be a problem with her appendix, but they didn’t even reply to me. A problem with her bowel was the answer I was given, and the staff told me there was nothing that could be done for her in Castlebar.”

This news was highly disturbing. At approximately 5pm, the child, her mother and a nurse were put in an ambulance headed for Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin.
“I can hardly bring myself to talk about it now. The pain that my daughter had to endure on that journey was beyond anything I’ve ever witnessed. Every bump in the road was torture as the nurse and I tried our best to comfort her.
“Eventually, we arrived in Dublin, and by then it was obvious that she was in real trouble. I was frightened out of my wits and there were times when I wondered if I’d ever get her home again.
“Her appendix had ruptured on the journey, and she had to undergo emergency surgery when she arrived in Temple Street.
“In Castlebar I kept saying my daughter was suffering with appendicitis, but they dismissed me and said it was something to do with gastroenteritis, but now I know there was little or no evidence to support this.
“I felt ignored and disrespected, and only for the amazing staff in Temple Street my daughter would not be with us today. They saved her life after she had presented at MUH with a relatively common complaint a few days earlier.
“My family or I will never set foot in MUH again.”