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

Rushed hospital review into Summer's death, inquest hears


NOOSA Hospital's Clinical Director Judy Beazley is explaining to the coroner in the Summer Steer inquest there is only a "scant document" investigating the little girl's death.

Summer Steer, four, was taken by ambulance to Noosa Emergency on June 29 after vomiting blood at home.

She was diagnosed after 15 minutes and then readmitted for observation when she vomited blood outside the hospital's emergency room.  She was discharged again six hours later.

She went to her Tewantin home, but then her mother, Andrea Shoesmith, had to call the ambulance again as the vomiting blood had intensified.

It was when Summer vomited half a litre of blood in the hospital an x-ray was undertaken and the button battery lodged in her esophagus was found.

Summer was airlifted to the Royal Brisbane where she died later that day.

Noosa Hospital's investigation into Summer's death considered of a "three page" document.

There was no intensive analysis until the coroner, John Hutton, announced in May there would be an inquest.

Ms Beazley has acknowledged the review was short and Mr Hutton said it "does not match the disaster that occurred".

The inquest continues


THE EMERGENCY doctor who sent Summer Steer home twice after she was vomiting blood admitted he wished he'd done more the fateful night before she died.

Yesterday was the second day of an inquest at Maroochydore into the four-year-old's death after she swallowed a button battery.

Dr Jacobus Du Plessis said he thought Summer was suffering from "epistaxis"(a nosebleed) when she was brought in by ambulance at about midnight on June 29, 2013.

Her mum, Andrea Shoesmith had noticed her vomiting twice at home.


Dr Du Plessis sent Summer home 15 minutes after seeing her, but when she vomited blood again outside the hospital's entrance, she was admitted for the night.

Ms Shoesmith told the coroner, John Hutton, Summer vomited blood another two times while under observation in Noosa Hospital.

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

Dr Du Plessis telephoned the Nambour paediatrician registrar about 6am on June 30 to get advice on whether or not Summer should be allowed to go home.

"I thought her bleeding was less," Dr Du Plessis said as he explained why he discharged the four-year-old for a second time about 6.30am.

Summer returned to the hospital hours later when she vomited blood and "collapsed" at home again and her mother thought "she was dying".

She vomited half a litre of blood in the hospital. An x-ray was finally taken and the button battery lodged in Summer's oesophagus was discovered. Summer died from cardiac failure later that day.

Mr Hutton asked Dr Du Plessis if it was a "tragic misdiagnosis" and the doctor didn't go the extra step of "checking there was something else".

Dr Andrew Spall
Dr Andrew Spall

Dr Du Plessis acknowledged this, but said he didn't think it was more than a nose bleed. He said he would have taken greater care with his note taking in hindsight.

Ms Shoesmith's general practitioner, Dr Andrew Spall received the brunt of the coroner's questioning.

Mr Hutton had instructed police to follow Dr Spall to his office to seize all notes in relation to Summer and her mother after questions arose during yesterday's inquest about Dr Spall's notes.

Dr Spall admitted he did not take notes of a conversation in which he said Ms Shoesmith had told him she thought Summer swallowed the battery after her initial consultation with him.

Ms Shoesmith was brought back to the stand to confirm she never said this.

"No, definitely not," she said.


The inquest continues today.

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