Woman’s sepsis death ‘avoidable’


Published: Tuesday 17th February 2015 by The News Editor

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A 62-year-old woman’s death from sepsis could have been avoided if she had received proper care in hospital, an investigation has found.

The woman was discharged from the London hospital after inconclusive tests were carried out by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) said.

She went to hospital several more times suffering from abdominal pain and blood in her urine and was eventually admitted for exploratory surgery, but her condition worsened and she died in 2011 before this could take place.

The subsequent ombudsmen investigation found staff made errors in assessing the woman’s condition and failed to treat her with the appropriate antibiotics in enough time.

Steps were also not taken to control the clotting of her blood before surgery and she should not have been discharged.

The trust’s complaint handling was also poor, it concluded.

Ombudsman Julie Mellor said: ” Our investigation found that because of a series of errors at a hospital a woman lost her life.

“Her husband told us that he has lost his best friend just before he and his wife were due to start a new life together.

“We hope our investigation and the action taken by the trust will reassure him that lessons have been learnt as a result of his complaint so that others are less likely to suffer the same experience.”

A separate investigation carried out by the PHSO also found that a Surrey-based hospital’s failures reduced an elderly man’s chances of survival from sepsis.

The 77-year-old man was admitted to Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust with several health problems but his condition was not recognised for more than two hours.

Antibiotics were not started until four hours after admission which reduced his chances of recovery, the investigation found

The trust agreed to pay the man’s daughter £1,200 in compensation after finding that although he was managed appropriately once in the care of the medical team, the care received during the initial period did not meet the expected standard.

Last year the PHSO warned that o pportunities to save lives are being missed because the NHS has not made enough progress in improving care for those affected by sepsis, a year after it made a series of recommendations to increase awareness and improve the care of people with the condition, which is triggered by an infection.

When someone has sepsis their body goes into overdrive which can lead to a reduced blood supply to vital organs such as the brain, heart and kidneys. If not treated promptly it can lead to multiple organ failure and death.

NHS figures show that every year in the UK around 100,000 people are admitted to hospital with sepsis and around 37,000 people will die as a result of the condition.

Published: Tuesday 17th February 2015 by The News Editor

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