Girl, 4, dies after ingesting lithium battery

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Three times Andrea Shoesmith took her daughter to the doctor, and three times doctors informed her that 4-year-old Summer Steer would be fine.

Hours after a visit to the hospital on June 30, 2013, Summer was dead.

The saga began on June 13 when Shoesmith took her daughter to the doctor after noticing that Summer was producing black bowel movements. She also had a high temperature and complained of stomach pain, the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) reported.

Dr. Andrew Spall believed that Summer was suffering from giardiasis, a gastrointestinal infection, according to Sunshine Coast Daily. Dr. Spall had diagnosed her mother with the same illness weeks prior and figured that the cases were linked. Both times, however, the doctor did not obtain a clinical specimen.

Andrea’s diagnosis was made during their second doctor’s visit, on June 17. Sunshine Coast Daily reports that there were only records of one appointment with Dr. Spall, though Shoesmith says differently.

Shoesmith took her daughter to the hospital during the early hours of June 30. Summer had suffered a nosebleed and had been vomiting blood, according to the ABC. Shoesmith said the doctor claimed it was “common to be sick after swallowing blood from a nose bleed.” As Summer and her mother were exiting the building, the 4-year-old threw up blood again, this time bright red in color.

Summer was then placed under observation for a number of hours before the doctor said she could go home. Shortly after arriving home, Summer collapsed. She returned to Noosa Hospital for the third time that day and was promptly flown to a hospital in Brisbane. An X-ray revealed the cause of Summer’s symptoms, but it was too little, too late: Summer went into cardiac arrest and died.

The cause of all this? A small lithium battery lodged in Summer’s esophagus, roughly the size of a coin. Susan Teerds, chief executive of Kidsafe Queensland, told ABC that having those batteries around is like having a “loaded gun.”

Per a report from the Brisbane Times, coroner John Hutton said the hospital’s investigation was “inadequate.” He also advocated for safer packaging of lithium batteries and more secure battery compartments.
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