By Sian Morris, Chartered Legal Executive, Clinical Negligence
The Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have apologised and admitted negligence for their failings that led to the death of a 25 year old woman.
Switalskis represent the family of Farha Zalqarnain who first attended the Emergency Department at the Bradford Royal Infirmary on 8 March 2016 with complaints of a cough, fever, vomiting and pain in breathing. Her pulse was found to be high but blood tests were essentially normal. After treatment with intravenous fluids and paracetamol, Farha was discharged home during the early hours of 9 March 2016.
Farha remained unwell and was unable to go to work: she had lost her appetite and could not walk properly. She continued to cough and experienced chest pain, and felt feverish again. Farha attended the Emergency Department but seeing that there was a long waiting time, she did not wait to be assessed as she was in too much pain.
Farha returned to the Emergency Department during the early hours of 12 March, when she was experiencing chest pain on breathing. After an assessment that included a chest x-ray, she was discharged.
Farha’s condition deteriorated and she returned to the Emergency Department by ambulance later the same day. She was experiencing chest pain and had a very rapid pulse. Despite a persistently high pulse, Farha was discharged home with a diagnosis of muscle pain probably related to a viral upper respiratory tract infection. She was given a prescription for antibiotics, but as the hospital pharmacy was closed she was unable to obtain the medication.
Later the same evening, Farha returned to the Emergency Department again by ambulance. She had a very high pulse rate and she was only able to speak in short sentences. Intravenous fluids and antibiotics were administered, but Farha’s condition rapidly deteriorated and she suffered a cardio-respiratory arrest on the 13 March 2016. Although medical staff were able to re-start her heart, Farha’s condition continued to deteriorate and she sadly died later that day. The cause of death was recorded as sepsis due to bronchopneumonia.
The hospital admit that when Farha presented to the Emergency Department during the afternoon on the 12 March 2016, she was exhibiting a marked systemic inflammatory response namely, abnormal rapid heart rate, low blood pressure and fever which warranted further investigations and treatment. The hospital admit that such further investigations would have revealed that Farha had sepsis and therefore she should not have been discharged home. Farha should have been treated with intravenous fluids and antibiotics. The hospital accept that in these circumstances, she would have survived.
The Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust have apologised and expressed their condolences to the Farha’s family for their sad loss.
Recent figures from NHS Digital show that admissions to hospital due to sepsis have doubled over the last three years. This is partially due to increased awareness of the disease but is also linked to increasing levels of resistance to antibiotics. The UK Sepsis Trust estimates that sepsis kills around 52,000 people in the UK every year. It is therefore crucial to recognise the signs of sepsis and begin treatment as soon as possible.
On 13 September 2019 Switalskis Solicitors helped to raise awareness of sepsis on World Sepsis Day.
At Switalskis Solicitors our experienced Clinical Negligence team frequently work with people who have been mis-diagnosed or received a diagnosis later than they should have done. If you would like to speak to a member of our team please contact us on 01484 825 200.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice, and the law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice on their own particular circumstances.