Baby who died of meningitis after being sent home ‘could have been saved’

Senior doctors found that a premature baby girl who died of meningitis within 24 hours of being sent home from hospital could have been saved, it is claimed.

Two-month-old Amber Rafferty was diagnosed with constipation and sent home after her worried mum, Veronica, took her to hospital, but the infant died the following day.

Minutes from a case review six months after the newborn’s death confirm she could have been saved if clinicians had admitted her for observation, it was reported.

In the minutes, seen by the Sunday Mail, senior staff at the hospital admit they failed the family, the report added.

The notes also lay out that different practices could have saved the two-month-old’s life, it is said.

Amber was taken to hospital by her worried mum Veronica, who was reassured that nothing was wrong.

The following morning, the baby’s heart stopped and she was rushed to Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

The Sunday Mail told last week how doctors battled to save Amber, who was born at 28 weeks, but she died from meningitis within 24 hours of being sent home.

In the minutes seen by the Sunday Mail, senior staff at the hospital admit they failed the family.

Dr Edile Murdoch is a consultant neonatologist and chaired the meeting.

She said the hospital’s review into the tot’s death on May 2 recognises that there was an alternative way of managing Amber “and if we had done that the outcome is likely to have been different”.

She also apologised that the alternative management guidance was not in place.

The minutes detail how Dr Paul Eunson “noted that everyone was in agreement that if Amber had been admitted, then the staff would have observed that she was deteriorating”.

Heartbroken Veronica, 25, said she has lost faith in the NHS.

She added: “They admitted they are wrong, so that’s negligence to me.

“I told them if I am a mum again, I wouldn’t take my baby to any NHS hospital. I will make sure to go private and, even then, look for more opinions if I’m still unsatisfied.”

Amber’s dad Scott, 33, added: “It’s there in black and white.

“They have admitted that Amber would still be alive if they had taken her into hospital.

“But she was sent home in the early stages of meningitis. It was negligent.”

Since Amber’s death in May, the hospital have introduced a number of changes, including routine admission of premature babies for observation.

Tracey Gillies, medical director of NHS Lothian, said: “The death of a child is always tragic and I offer my sincere condolences to the family of Amber Rafferty.

“Following a full investigation, which concluded that appropriate care was provided, members of our senior clinical team met with the family to discuss the findings and a follow-up meeting has been offered.”

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