An inquest into the death of a nine-year-old girl who died two-days after falling from a swing has heard that the child developed the injuries after her release from hospital.
Leila Baartse-Harkin was discharged from hospital hours after she fell from a swing and landed on her stomach at her East Fleurieu School in Strathalbyn, Adelaide. She died two days later on October 1, 2015 from a perforated small bowel as a result of abdominal trauma.
Women’s and Children’s Hospital registrar Dr Amy McMellon appeared at the inquest to give evidence into the child’s death, telling Deputy State Coroner Anthony Schapel that she believed Leila’s fatal bowel perforation developed after she was discharged, reports News.com.au.
“She didn’t have that when I saw her,” she said. “I know that she did not have it from my examination.”
Leila was sent for X-rays and sought the advice of a senior doctor and they could not find a reason for the pain in her abdomen. They asked her to perform a jumpng test, which Dr McMellon says Leila “laughed and giggled the whole way through”.
The court heard that Leila should have underwent a CT scan to check for a perforated bowel.
After Leila appeared to be improving, Dr McMellon said she “was reporting that she had no more pain”, after being given two doses of pain medication.
She added that Leila’s family were advised to seek further medical help if Leila’s condition worsened, a claim the child’s mother, Edith Harkin, disputes.
The following day Leila was again vomiting, appeared weak and pale and continued to complain of abdominal pain and she was assessed by a GP on September 30.
The GP did doctor did not examine her abdomen, the inquest has been told.
Leila’s condition worsened and the following morning her parents found her unresponsive and rushed her to hospital where they found the emergency department unattended.
“(There were) no doctors there… I called triple-0 while we were there (and) two nurses came out (and started CPR),” Leila’s father, Ricky Harkin, said during the inquest last year.
Leila was pronounced dead at 8am.
"I feel like they [the health system] failed her,” Mrs Harkin told the Sunday Mail last year.
"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."
The inquest continues.