Misdiagnosis of sepsis claim settles successfully

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3 minute read

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Mr Pirie was a 55-year-old man who attended hospital following an accident which resulted in him suffering a fractured neck.

The hospital staff failed to follow the hospital’s guidance for the management of patients who display warning signs of sepsis. Mr Pirie was discharged home the day after he was admitted to the Emergency Department despite him showing signs of severe sepsis. The hospital staff also then failed to call Mr Pirie back to hospital once blood tests results came back confirming he had a serious bacterial infection. Mr Pirie then passed away four days later.

Following his death, we were contacted by Mr Pirie’s widow, who had general concerns regarding the care he had received. She instructed us to help her make a claim on behalf of the estate, and on her own behalf as a dependant of her late husband.

The claim ultimately settled for £270,000.00.

Whilst on holiday abroad in 2016 Mr Pirie fractured his neck after an accident at the beach.

He flew back to the UK and went to the Emergency Department of his local hospital. He was x-rayed and it was confirmed he had suffered a fracture of the C1 vertebra of his neck.

Following the x-ray the treating clinicians decided there was no requirement for surgery and preparations were made for Mr Pirie to be discharged home.

The next morning his observations were taken and it was noted that he was feverish, his heart rate was high and his breathing was abnormally fast. His treating clinicians considered that he may be suffering from sepsis. A blood sample was taken for testing and he was given a single dose of IV antibiotics; along with fluids and oxygen.

Later that morning Mr Pirie was seen by a physiotherapist and was told to return for daily care by the physiotherapy team. He was then given a course of oral antibiotics and was discharged that same day.

He was advised to return to the fracture clinic in two weeks. At the time he was discharged Mr Pirie remained feverish, and his heart rate and breathing rate were still high.

Mr Pirie returned to the hospital the following day for his appointment with the physiotherapy team. During the assessment they noted his continued breathing difficulties. He was also still coughing up blood.

The blood sample (which had been taken the day before) indicated that Mr Pirie was suffering from a serious bacterial blood stream infection. The hospital wrote to Mr Pirie advising him to see his GP at his earliest convenience for a review of his chest.

He did not receive the letter until the following day. He then visited his GP surgery and his continued breathing difficulties were noted.

His wife also called an ambulance in the early hours of the next morning as Mr Pirie was still very unwell and he was struggling to breathe. He was left in the care of his wife and advised to contact his GP later in the day.

Unfortunately his condition did not improve, and he died over night. The cause of his death was recorded as pulmonary oedema and heart disease.

Following his death Mr Pirie’s widow contacted us and we investigated a claim against the hospital on her late husband’s behalf.

The claim centred around the allegations that had Mr Pirie been kept in hospital (or called back to hospital once his blood test results came back) he would have received the treatment he needed; and his untimely death would have been avoided.

Morgan Lister - Enable Law

Mrs Pirie was recommended to contact Morgan Lister by her late husband’s employer.

The hospital apologised for the care provided and admitted their staff breached the duty of care they owed to Mr Pirie. They admitted that, on the basis of their own sepsis guidelines, Mr Pirie should not have been discharged home and they should have called him back into hospital after they became aware of his blood results. The hospital however strongly denied throughout the claim that his death could have been avoided.

Despite the hospital denying that his death could have been avoided, a settlement was achieved and Mrs Pirie / Mr Pirie’s estate received a lump sum settlement of £270,000.

The damages awarded could not truly compensate Mrs Pirie for the loss of her husband. However, the admissions and apology we gained from the hospital, and the fact the hospital ultimately settled the claim, gave comfort to Mrs Pirie that she was able to achieve some justice for her husband.

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