Doctor did not misdiagnose a child who died of meningococcal

By Lindy Laird

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A Bay of Islands doctor did not misdiagnose a child who died of meningococcal disease but GPs are being reminded to be more vigilant when it comes to the deadly illness.

The warning comes from primary health authorities and Northland District Health Board after an inquiry into the death of a Kerikeri toddler in October.

As a result of the inquiry into whether an on-call doctor at Bay of Islands Hospital made mistakes in diagnosing and treating the case on October 14, Northland primary health organisations will issue a wallet-sized card for parents to use as a prompt when seeking medical advise for sick children.

The sentinel event investigation by Te Tai Tokerau PHO and Northland District Health Board has also led to Northland PHOs offering ongoing professional development for all general practitioners which would include improved documentation, follow-up planning and management in the after-hours setting.

Northland Primary Healthcare clinical director Kyle Eggleton, who led the investigation, said meningococcal disease was unpredictable, moved rapidly and its presentation was variable.

His inquiry into the Bay of Islands death found the after-hours duty doctor had not made mistakes in his initial treatment for gastroenteritis and an ear infection, but had not fully ensured the toddler's parents understood how serious the matter could become should her condition deteriorate.

The toddler was discharged and, some hours after seeing the doctor, died at home.

- Northern Advocate

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