A hospital has been criticised by a coroner for failing to spot that a 10-year-old boy, who died from meningitis, was gravely ill.
Darlington Memorial Hospital staff sent 10-year-old William Cressey home and initially refused to give him antibiotics, an inquest was told.
Coroner David Mitford said delays in treatment could have contributed to William's death, on 1 March 2005.
The boy's family said the treatment he received was "barbaric and inhumane".
Health bosses have apologised to William's family, who are taking legal action.
The inquest at Newcastle Civic Centre heard the youngster was refused antibiotics until it was too late and eventually suffered a massive seizure, slipping into a coma from which he never recovered.
Mr Mitford recorded a narrative verdict, adding that the death was due to "natural causes to which a delay in giving antibiotic treatment for meningitis may have contributed".
County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust expressed its sympathy to William's family, but said that due to impending legal action it could not comment further.
The inquest heard William's mother Cheryl had taken him to the hospital on the night of 27 February 2005 on the advice of her GP after he had been unwell for several days.
Doctors initially thought he was suffering from a viral infection and sent him home after 24 hours of observation.
A short time after he got home to Hurworth in Darlington he deteriorated, and Mrs Cressey took him back to the hospital.
The inquest heard that when the schoolboy was in a lot of pain he begged one doctor: "Please help me - if you don't help me, I'm going to die."
On the morning of 1 March, William suffered a huge seizure and did not regain consciousness.
Mr Mitford criticised the hospital for the way it observed William, concluding: "There are no notes, inadequate discharge documentation and there was no medical examination."
In a statement after the inquest, Mrs Cressey said: "The treatment William received was both barbaric and inhumane.
"He was denied the most basic of medical care and denied human compassion."