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Rochester schoolgirl Rhianna Rawding died hours after being sent home from Lewisham hospital, inquest told

12 December 2013
by Jenni Horn
Rhianna Rawding died on Christmas Day in 2012

Rhianna Rawding died on Christmas Day in 2012

A girl who died of blood poisoning on Christmas Day had been sent home from hospital by a junior doctor just hours before, an inquest heard.

Rochester schoolgirl Rhianna Rawding, nine, collapsed and died at her grandmother's house on December 25, last year.

Earlier that day she had been rushed to A&E, but was sent home.

Her parents Gemma and Justin took Rhianna to see her GP on Christmas Eve as she was suffering from a kidney infection.

He advised them to take her to hospital if her condition got worse in any way.

As Rhianna deteriorated, her worried parents followed the GP's advice and took her to A&E in Lewisham, where the family were staying with Mrs Rawding's parents, in the early hours of Christmas Day.

Her condition had worsened to the point she could not walk, she had breathing difficulties and her feet were freezing cold and covered in purple blotches.

Rhianna, a pupil at Delce Junior School, had a history of urinary tract infections related to a kidney abnormality but this time her parents knew there was something seriously wrong.

Rhianna was assessed by a junior doctor at University Hospital Lewisham who confirmed she had a urine infection. He told her parents to take her home and to continue with the antibiotics prescribed by her GP.

He did not keep her in for observation or further tests, even though Rhianna's parents told him the infection was unlike any she had ever experienced before.

Mr and Mrs Rawding reluctantly took Rhianna home. At 6.30am on Christmas Day, Rhianna was complaining of being cold and Mrs Rawding ran her a bath to warm her up.

Moments later, as Mr Rawding carried Rhianna to the bath, she went into cardiac arrest.

Paramedics tried to resuscitate her on the way to the hospital, but could not save her.

Rhianna with dad Justin and mum Gemma

Rhianna Rawding with dad Justin and mum Gemma

At an inquest into her death, Southwark Coroner's Court heard from a senior doctor who said had she assessed Rhianna, she would not have discharged her.

The coroner, who recorded a narrative conclusion, said it was highly likely that if Rhianna had been kept in, her deterioration would have been noticed and acted on.

He said keeping her in hospital for a few hours of observation would have made a difference, but said he could not go as far as to say it would have saved her life.

"The whole family has been absolutely devastated by Rhianna's death and we want to ensure that lessons are learned so that no other family has to go through this nightmare..." - Gemma Rawding

Following the inquest, Mrs Rawding said they hoped lessons could be learned from Rhianna's death.

She added: "The whole family has been absolutely devastated by Rhianna's death and we want to ensure that lessons are learned so that no other family has to go through this nightmare.

"We believe Rhianna's death could have been prevented with better care and we are determined to raise safety levels for other sick children who are taken to hospital."

A spokesman for Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said: "We offer our sincere condolences to Mr and Mrs Rawding for the tragic death of their daughter Rhianna.

"We will be examining the outcome of the inquest in detail before commenting further.

"At this difficult time our thoughts are with Rhianna's family."

Rhianna's parents, who moved to Rochester from Leicestershire in September 2012, are raising money for Birmingham Children's Hospital, which has cared for Rhianna throughout her life.

The hospital is a major centre for the treatment of kidney disorders, helping more than 1,500 children a year.

Rhianna's family hope to raise around £2,000 which will buy a kidney dialysis machine for the specialist unit. 

Donations can be made at

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