A Victorian coroner has recommended stricter regulation of button batteries following an inquest into the death of a one-year-old.
Isabella Rees died in 2015 after she was sent home from the Sunshine hospital, in Melbourne’s west, three times as doctors attributed vomiting and fever as being symptoms of an infection.
On the fourth visit, after her mother had discovered Isabella covered in blood, an X-ray discovered a small silver button battery lodged inside her. By then, it was too late and Isabella passed away hours later, despite intensive resuscitation efforts.
Talking outside the coroner’s court in Melbourne today, Isabella’s mother urged parents to voice their concerns if they believe their child is unwell.
We believe our beautiful Bella could have been saved, especially if early detection and intervention of a button battery ingestion was made Allison Rees said in a statement.
You might think you’re just a mum or dad and not a medical professional. But you know your child better than anyone and you know when your child is sick. Make sure you voice your concerns and make sure you are being heard. Because it just might save your child’s life.
The inquest found that Isabella’s parents did tell hospital staff, on multiple occasions, they thought their daughter had swallowed something – which failed to be noted in medical records.
However, it was determined that the medical treatment provided to the young family was reasonable and appropriate and that button battery ingestion is extremely difficult to diagnose, especially if the ingestion is not witnessed.
Doctors must be vigilant and parents must feel empowered to raise concerns, Victorian coroner Caitlin English said.
Ms English accepted the view of experts presented during the inquest who claimed primary prevention is the most important aspect of treatment.
Ms English noted what she found to be “substantial work” on behalf of the ACCC and a number of medical institutions to improve awareness and management of button battery ingestion arising from recommendations made in the Summer Streer Inquest.
In a statement issued by Western Health, the operators of Sunshine hospital, the organisation expressed “sincere condolences and sympathies to the family of Isabella Rees following her tragic death at Sunshine Hospital in February 2015.”
Western Health acknowledges the findings and recommendations of the Coronial Inquest led by Coroner Caitlin English and have taken a range of steps since Isabella’s death to reduce the likelihood of such a tragic incident occurring again.”
We will now move to implement the specific recommendation concerning Western Health as handed down by the Coroner and will seek to ensure the widespread visibility of information materials for our existing ‘Call for Help’ program for patients presenting across all our services.