By Candice Prosser.
Coroner Mark Johns has begun an inquest into the death of Briony Caitlin Klingberg, who died in January 2015 after being severely unwell for nearly a week.
The court heard her parents were very concerned about her and took her to the Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital emergency department, but a senior doctor sent her home and told her parents to return if her condition worsened.
The inquest was told her parents then took her to the Mount Barker Hospital where another doctor sent her home, and later saw their family GP before again taking her back to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital where she died.
The girl’s mother, Bridget Klingberg, told the court her daughter had open sores on her throat causing her constant pain and was unable to eat, drink or sleep.
The court heard the family lived on a farm at Woodside in the Adelaide Hills and had to travel an hour to an hour and a half to get to a hospital in Adelaide.
Mrs Klingberg said her daughter was a healthy, strong child who was very active and determined, and she knew something was not right when she first became unwell.
“She didn’t eat her tea, Briony loved her food so we knew she wasn’t well,” she said.
She tearfully told the court her daughter continued to refuse food and water and was not getting any pain relief from medication.
“Everything hurt to swallow. I couldn’t stop the pain, she couldn’t rest,” she said.
Briony ‘wasn’t getting better’
However Ms Klingberg said despite her symptoms, she did not want to return to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
“I had the sense not to bring her back unless she got worse, for us she wasn’t necessarily getting worse, she just wasn’t getting better,” she said.
“We couldn’t stop the pain, we couldn’t stop the fever.
“But I didn’t want to re-present down there with the same things they sent us home for. I felt I couldn’t really go back because they said bring her back if she gets worse.”
The court heard a swab of the girl’s throat was taken at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, but the doctor did not specify it be tested for herpes which is not a routine test.
She said she kept administering the antibiotics and painkillers prescribed by the doctors, but her daughter was still suffering.
“We never went home with a diagnosis, it was all a guess,” she said.
“Everyone kept sending us home so we thought she couldn’t be that sick.”
The coroner was also told expert evidence to be given to the court would be critical of the medical care and the use of steroids to treat the child which may have worsened her condition.
Clearer instructions ‘would have helped mum’
A junior doctor who saw Briony at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Dr Alice Rogers, told the court she thought the girl had laryngitis and was concerned she was dehydrated and had unusual ulcerations on her throat.
She said she wanted the girl to be admitted to a short-stay unit but senior Dr Davinder Gill deemed that the child was well enough to go home.
“I remember finding the appearance of Briony’s throat to be particularly unusual and I wanted him to look at it with me because I hadn’t seen anything similar before,” she said.
“I suggested perhaps she would benefit from supervision in the short stay unit with oral intake.”
Dr Rogers conceded when questioned by the coroner that the girl’s mother was exhausted, and would have benefited from clearer instructions about what symptoms would prompt her to bring her child back to hospital.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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