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21 January 2011, 18:09
A toddler from Essex has died after doctors failed to spot she was ill with meningitis, her parents say.
Lili Backhouse, aged 23 months and one of twins, was taken to Queen's Hospital in Romford by her parents Brian and Julie earlier this month.
They claim a doctor said their daughter's illness, which included fever and sickness, was a viral infection and sent her home. But within a few hours the youngster's health had deteriorated and her parents took her to A&E.
Doctors there diagnosed her with meningitis, but it was too late to save her life. Lili's twin Lukas fell ill with meningitis just hours after his sister died, but doctors caught the disease and he has made a full recovery. It is also claimed that another toddler from Essex was sent home after being seen at Queen's on the same day, despite the fact he too had meningitis.
Interim chief executive for Queen's, Deborah Wheeler, said: "Our thoughts are with the Backhouse family at this extremely difficult time. Meningitis is notoriously difficult to diagnose and our doctors did the very best they could for Lili."
"We would be happy to meet with both families to discuss any concerns they have and will be looking into both cases to see if anything could have been done differently."
Steve Dayman, chief executive of Meningitis UK, who lost his son to the disease in 1982, said: "It's always worrying to hear about cases where lives might have been saved. Unfortunately we hear stories like this far too frequently. It seems that doctors are sending children home too readily, which is often a deadly mistake to make when they're suffering from meningitis as it can kill in under four hours."