Mistaken for tonsillitis

22nd February 2018

Mum-of-two Jane Brown speaks out about when her baby boy almost died after his "meningitis was mistaken for tonsillitis"


Jane's son Bobby was just 17 months old when he was left fighting for his life during 48 harrowing hours in intensive care at Hull Royal Infirmary.

Speaking to the Mirror, Jane explained how she became worried that Bobby had a high temperature, high-pitched crying and was not sleeping.

She took him to her GP, but claims she was told that he probably had a viral bug. However, two days later his condition had worsened and she rushed him to hospital where she claims he was given another misdiagnosis - and this time it was potentially deadly.

Ms Brown said, “His eyes were glazed and it was if he was looking right through me. I realised that wasn’t normal and his temperature was borderline 40 degrees.”

“I drove him to Hull Royal Infirmary and he started to lose consciousness in the car, which was really scary. When I got there, the doctors said it was tonsillitis but I still wasn’t sure."

“I asked the doctor if he thought it might be meningitis and he said no – he was quite dismissive. We sat there for a couple of hours with Bobby curled up in a ball. He was unresponsive and if you picked him up he would just cry.”

Ms Brown claims that during the hospital visit in June 2016, doctors were just going to give her a prescription for antibiotics.

However, her gut instinct was telling her that something was not right.

“I said to them that I wanted to go upstairs and for him to be monitored. Two hours later he was fighting for his life in intensive care."

"His eyes were rolling and that was when the whole scenario changed because they realised the infection had gone to the brain”

“I just couldn’t believe it – they told me it was tonsillitis and they were going to send me home.”

During Bobby’s time in intensive care he was given strong doses of three type of antibiotics as well as steroids. Fortunately, he had no seizures and didn’t lapse into a coma but Ms Brown was allegedly told the situation could have been fatal if she had gone home.

“I was told by a nurse that he had two dots on his ankle and that was the start of septicaemia. That could have led to losing limbs and his body organs shutting down and that nurse told me if I had left this hospital my son would have died.”

Since suffering from meningococcal meningitis, Bobby, who is now three, has had to learn to crawl, talk and sit up again.

The infection also caused him to go deaf and he has had to have cochlear implants fitted to allow him to hear again.

Ms Brown, who has since moved to the Cotswolds to be closer to her family, said, “He is doing amazing now. He is just a typical three-year-old lad."

“He is very confident and happy and he is just going from strength to strength.”

Although Bobby is now well and on the road to recovery, Ms Brown says she wants her story to inspire other parents to trust their instincts and not be afraid to challenge the advice of doctors.

Ms Brown, who did not formally complain to Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said, “It’s scary how many other mums or dads might have just taken the antibiotics and gone because they thought "who am I to challenge the doctor?""

“I really think it is down to a mother’s intuition and I knew something wasn’t right with my little boy. Always go with your gut instinct. Stand your ground and don’t be pushed aside.”

Mike Wright, who is the chief nurse for Hull and East Yorkshire Hospital NHS Trust, confirmed that Ms Brown had not raised the issue with the trust.

However, he said it would still be willing to hear any concerns Ms Brown has.

He said, “Any allegation of misdiagnosis is clearly a serious one, so it is concerning to us that Ms Brown has not raised this issue previously with us and given us the opportunity to look into the matter further."

“We are, of course, sorry to hear of Bobby’s illness 18 months ago, and our Patient Advice and Liaison Service would still be willing to discuss Ms Brown’s concerns should she wish to contact us directly.”