Why didn't two South Australian hospitals find Leila's fatal injuries?


The tragedy that might have been avoided.

Nine-year-old Leila Baartse-Harkin has died after two hospitals failed to detect severe internal injuries.

Leila, who loved being outdoors and going on family holidays, sustained injuries to her wrist and stomach after jumping from the swing set at her after-school care on Tuesday afternoon.

She visited Strathalbyn Hospital, and subsequently directed to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, where she was treated her for a broken wrist. Both hospitals failed to detect a far more serious problem: a perforation of the small bowel.

Although Leila was vomiting directly after the fall, X-rays taken at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital confirmed that she had suffered no internal injuries. On Wednesday morning, however, Leila was still complaining of a sore stomach. She returned to Strathalbyn Hospital, where she was prescribed painkillers.

On Thursday morning, Leila stopped breathing. Her parents rushed her to Strathalbyn Hospital, where they were met with closed doors.

“[There were] no doctors there … I called triple-o while we were there [and] two nurses came out [and started CPR],” Mr Harkin told the Sunday Mail.


Despite the efforts of the doctors, nurses and ambulance crew, Leila was pronounced dead at 8am on Thursday morning.

Parents Edie and Ricky Harkin blame an overworked health system for their daughter’s death.

“I feel like they [the health system] failed her,” Mrs Harkin told the Sunday Mail.

“The people that were working were under pressure, overworked — there is such a strain on the health system. I feel like my daughter was a victim of that.”

Leila’s parents can only hope that her death will serve as a reminder for parents to be vigilant about their children’s health.

“This is not something I want to happen again,” Mrs Harkin said.

“What I want parents to take away from this is listen to your gut, insist, keep pushing, stand your ground and don’t leave.”

In a statement, SA Health confirmed that the circumstances of Leila’s death will be subject to a coronial investigation.