“There is one thing parents can do to stop these deaths. ”
“Giardia” the doctor told Andrea Shoesmith when she first took her sick four-year old to the doctor.
“She’ll be fine.”
He sent them on their way and went on with his busy workload.
The little girl had been complaining of abdominal pain and loose black bowel motions, she was still playing with her older brother Finn but Andrea just knew something wasn’t right.
The GP later told an inquest that he just did what many doctors do… “take an educated guess.”
Two weeks later his “educated guess” would prove horrifyingly misguided as four-year old Summer would be dead.
The night before she died Summer’s brother Finn, aged seven, alerted his mother to his little sister’s distress. He woke Andrea in the middle of the night telling her “Summer has a bleeding nose.”
When she checked on her the little four-year old, her big brother’s best mate and described by her mother as a “tomboy,” vomited dark red blood.
Her mother called Triple-O and Summer was rushed to hospital but after 15 minutes the Emergency Department at Noosa Hospital sent them on their way with the attending doctor saying Summer had just swallowed blood from a bloody nose and then vomited.
Once again “she’ll be fine.”
While they were waiting for a taxi outside the ED Summer again vomited blood and was readmitted.
But after four-hours she was once again discharged with her mother given a vomit bag and medication to stop her vomiting.
“I was told she will be fine, she just had a blood nose,” Andrea Shoesmith would tell an inquest.
Early the next morning as the three rested on the couch watching cartoons Summer began to vomit again and collapsed. For a third time Andrea rushed Summer back to the Emergency Department where a different doctor took over the care of the little girl.
As her condition deteriorated finally medical staff conducted an x-ray that found a 2cm button battery stuck in her esophagus, it had caused internal chemical burns, perforation and haemorrhage.
Doctors still assured Andrea that the battery could be removed so they rushed her to Brisbane hospital via helicopter. Andrea said that when they got to Brisbane a team of people rushed Summer to surgery, still assuring her Summer would be “okay”. It was during surgery she knew the worst had happened when she and Summer’s father, Brad were taken to a private room to be given an update.
Summer had died.
Summer’s mother Andrea talks of the tragic death of her daughter.