Lilli’s legacy a safer children's system at hospital

A NATIONAL spleen register and critical changes to the delivery of medical services to children at Nambour General Hospital are legacies to a six-year-old girl.

The death of Lilli Sweet, pictured, is likely to spark a series of recommendations from Coroner John Lock.

The four-day coronial inquiry into her death at the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane on August 27, after initial treatment at Nambour, wound up yesterday.

The Coroner's assistant will complete a submission within two weeks, to which Peter Boyce, the legal representative for Lilli's mum Joanne and twin brother Bailey, and a bevy of barristers representing medical staff at the hospital, have three weeks to respond.

Legacies to her untimely death already include the National Spleen Register which was set up this year to record all people who, like Lilli, have had a splenectomy, plus new rules to ensure doctors don't work alone in Nambour's paediatric ward and a requirement for a senior medical officer to sign off on any strong medication given to children.

Evidence given yesterday reinforced that two critical opportunities were missed to save her life. Action at either point would almost certainly have averted tragedy.

Lilli's mother had no comment at the end of proceedings and will wait until the Coroner delivers findings.

The family's GP had sent Lilli to Nambour Hospital on August 25, a Sunday, because it was where she should have been able to quickly have blood tests done to determine if the cause of headache and neck pain she was suffering was a consequence of the infection to which she was susceptible due to a hereditary condition and the subsequent removal of her spleen to help manage it.

However, blood tests were not taken until 9.11pm and even though results before midnight showed a white cell count of 46,500 - well above the 10,000 normal range - the antibiotics that could have saved her were not administered until 9am the next morning.

An hour later, before they could have effect, she had passed the point of no return.

Lilli had a seizure, went into a coma and was flown to Brisbane's Royal Children's Hospital where she died the next day in her mother's arms shortly after her life support was removed.

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