A 10-year-old girl from Australia died after doctors failed to properly diagnose her. When Briony Klingberg came down with a fever and complained about pain in her throat, her mother Bridget took her to doctors in Adelaide Hills, Australia.
Bridget said she took her daughter to several doctors, but none of them could properly diagnose her. Briony first saw a general practitioner after she started vomiting and experienced trouble swallowing. She was diagnosed with a throat infection and given antibiotics.
Briony’s illness continued to worsen. She was taken to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide, where doctors detected ulcers on her throat. She was sent home, only to visit another general practitioner the next day. She was prescribed steroids to help reduce the swelling in her throat.
Briony returned to the hospital to take blood tests, then woke the next day unable to urinate. She went back to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, but never made it inside. 10-year-old Briony had a seizure in the parking lot and died.
The Correct Diagnosis
The correct diagnosis only came after Briony’s death. Her death resulted from organ failure, due to herpes simplex virus, which was responsible for all of her symptoms. Her mother said, “We never went home with a diagnosis, it was all a guess. Everyone kept sending us home so we thought she couldn’t be that sick.”
She continued, “If there was a view or a concern even that she needed to stay, we would have chosen to stay. You trust that if she’s sick enough, they would say she needs to stay in.”
Dr. Alice Rogers, a junior doctor, was one of the doctors that saw Briony at the Women’s and Children’s hospital. She thought the little girl’s throat looked unusual and wanted her to stay overnight due to the ulcers. But when she consulted with a senior physician, Dr. Davinder Gill, she was told to send Briony home.
Dr. Rogers said, “I remember finding the appearance of Briony’s throat to be particularly unusual and I wanted him to look at it with me because I hadn’t seen anything similar before.” Dr. Gill told Dr. Rogers that Briony was well enough to go home.
Briony’s mother said, “I felt I couldn’t really go back becuase they said bring her back if she gets worse… she wasn’t necessarily getting worse, she just wasn’t getting better.” Briony’s family is mourning her loss and wondering what would have happened had she received the correct diagnosis.