Misdiagnosis Leads to Tragic Loss: Doctor Admits Major Error

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During an inquest into the tragic loss of a 19-month-old boy, Dr. Paul Bumford admitted to a "major error" in his diagnosis. Days before Noah Souvatzis succumbed to meningitis, he had been wrongly diagnosed with gastroenteritis by Dr. Bumford.

Working his first shift at Wangaratta Hospital, Dr. Bumford evaluated the toddler who was experiencing vomiting, prolonged crying, and a high fever. The child had earlier sought care at an urgent care center due to extreme lethargy and dehydration.

Despite these alarming symptoms, Dr. Bumford dismissed them as indicators of gastrointestinal issues and discharged Noah three hours later. However, hours after being sent home, Noah's condition worsened, and his parents had to rush him back to the hospital.

Subsequently transferred to the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Noah passed away on December 31, 2021, from meningitis. Dr. Bumford acknowledged his misjudgment, stating, "I wholeheartedly accepted that meningitis and sepsis should have been on my list, that was a huge error on my part."

He further expressed his regret, admitting that not correctly identifying the symptoms was "in hindsight, terrible from me." Dr. Bumford acknowledged his failings, emphasizing the undue weight he placed on certain observations instead of considering the broader context.

The misdiagnosis and subsequent treatment continue to haunt Dr. Bumford, who reflects on the situation daily. He also highlighted communication gaps with Noah's parents, stating, "I've thought about that a lot."

Northeast Health Wangaratta acknowledged the inappropriate care provided to Noah during his initial visit and apologized to his family. Noah's parents expressed their desire to prevent similar tragedies by ensuring that all medical services provide the necessary level of care for children in the future.


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