Summer Steer: Noosa Hospital criticised over death

Summer Steer, 4, died after swallowing a button-sized battery.
Summer Steer, 4, died after swallowing a button-sized battery.

A QUEENSLAND coroner has labelled Noosa Private Hospital's response as "inadequate" following the death of a four-year-old girl who was the first Australian child to die from swallowing button-sized lithium battery.

The coroner has also recommended manufacturers fund and develop safer batteries and that batteries are secured in a child resistant battery compartment in products.

Sunshine Coast girl Summer Alice Steer died on June 2013 after she swallowed the battery and it became lodged in her esophagus.

On Tuesday findings and recommendations were delivered following a coronial investigation into Summer's medical treatment leading up to her death.

Queensland Coroner John Hutton found Noosa Private Hospital's "initial limited investigation" of Summer's treatment before her death was inadequate.

He said it was not until a month before the inquest - almost two years after Summer's death - that the hospital conducted a review into the incident.

Noosa Hospital released a statement saying it accepted the Coroner's findings and would review his recommendations.

Noosa Hospital chief executive officer Jude Emmer said the hospital had already put in place procedures that would assist with earlier identification of battery ingestion by children.

Mr Hutton said Summer was taken to the hospital on the day she died, after vomiting blood, and was discharged within 15 minutes after the doctor thought she'd had a bleeding nose.

But as she was leaving the hospital she vomited blood again and stayed there for about six hours, vomiting several more times, before being discharged.

About two hours later she was rushed back to hospital after vomiting blood and collapsing at home.

As her condition deteriorated, medical staff through an x-ray discovered the 2cm button battery stuck in her esophagus.

When Summer arrived at Brisbane Royal Children's Hospital she went into cardiac arrest.

My Hutton has also recommended the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission develop a regulation to require all button battery compartments to be child resistant, that Noosa Private Hospital revise its deaths review process and that the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency raise awareness among medical staff about emerging product safety issues, such as battery ingestion.


Topics:  coronial inquest editors picks health hospital summer steer

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