Toddler died from sepsis a day after being turned away from hospital with ‘tummy bug’

Harper Aitken, three, from Falkirk, was taken to hospital after feeling ill and developing a rash but was told she just had a tummy bug. She later lost her life from sepsis. Her mum Lori is speaking out to urge other parents to mention the disease to medics

A toddler died from sepsis just a day after being turned away from hospital with a “tummy bug.”

Harper Aitken was just three when she lost her life to the horrific disease.

Her mum, Lori Mullen, has now urged other parents to “follow your gut” if your children are ill. She says they should mention sepsis to doctors if they see a rash on their child.

The Daily Record reports that Lori has told how Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, Scotland, turned Harper away without even consulting a paediatrician.

Lori, from near Falkirk, said: “Harper was a wee ­whirlwind. She loved dancing and music and was a real girly girl but she also loved playing outside and getting dirty, really dirty.”

But in 2019 her light was extinguished after a doctor failed to spot the sepsis signs.

Harper told Lori she felt ill on March 6 but seemed fine later on that day.

But the next day she felt worse and Lori saw a rash on her stomach which failed the glass test. Lori said: “I phoned an ­ambulance. When it arrived, her temperature was 41.5. She was observed for a wee while at the hospital but she had begun to feel a bit better.”

The doctor asked for a urine sample but as Lori was collecting it Harper defecated and the medic said it was contaminated.

Lori said: “I asked her to look at it but she refused and said she was just going to put it down as a tummy bug.

“The rash had disappeared and her temperature was coming down so I was told to take her home. In the night she was ­hallucinating and her temperature went up again.”

“Next morning she had perked up but she was back and forward to the toilet with ­diarrhoea.

“In the afternoon my mum noticed a blue dot on her hand. I lifted up her top and found the rash really bad on her back. Her lips were beginning to turn blue.”

Lori took Harper to her GP, who phoned an ambulance. Lori said: “I heard him saying, ‘She looks septic’.” Harper was blue-lighted to hospital at 3.50pm.

Lori added: “She was turning black with the sepsis. She was trying to take her oxygen mask off and said, ‘Mummy I don’t like this, I want to go home to Cayden (her brother). I told her to put her mask back on and that was the last thing she ever said.”

At 6.50pm on March 8 she was pronounced dead.

Her sepsis had started from a simple throat infection, known as Strep A. Lori added: “I had asked the first doctor if she had anything life-threatening. She said, ‘No, no’ but the next day she wasn’t here any more.”

The Procurator Fiscal told Lori changes to procedure have been made after Harper’s death.

But Lori said: “I have never seen any evidence of that. The hospital has never told me what they have done.”

And she urged other parents: “Trust your gut. I wish I had said the word ‘sepsis’.”

An NHS Forth Valley ­spokeswoman said: ”A number of changes and improvements have been made following a detailed internal review. This included additional clinical education and training led by an experienced paediatrician.

“We have met with the family on a number of occasions and shared the findings of the review, however, we will ensure they are also updated on the work which has been carried out.”