Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence

Cornish baby death from treatable sepsis

An Inquest in Truro has heard evidence that the life of a newborn baby who died from sepsis could have been saved had he been given appropriate treatment.

Dr James Gray, an expert Microbiologist, told the Coroner’s Court that:

If Charlie had been in hospital at a time when, or soon after, he first showed clinical signs of early-onset sepsis he would have received intravenous antibiotics at least 12 hours, and maybe more than 15 hours, before he died. In my opinion, he would, on balance of probability, have survived in such circumstances.”

Dr Gray acknowledged that Charlie’s streptococcal infection was “a very serious condition and has a high mortality rate” and admitted that Charlie might have been severely disabled had he survived but his chances of survival had been materially reduced by the failure to recognise his condition.

Charlie’s sad death was the culmination of a series of unusual and unfortunate events.

On 8 May 2015 Charlie’s mother Hayley went to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro in the advanced stages of pregnancy. She and her husband were concerned that she was about to go in to labour having experienced the sudden arrival of a previous baby.

Giving evidence, Jane Calvin, the midwife who examined Mrs Jermyn at the hospital, stated that Mrs Jermyn was not in established labour when she examined her five hours after her admission. “She came in at 22:00 and by the time I got to examine her at 03:00, in all that time nothing had changed,” she said. She denied the existence of any signs of infection and confirmed that she had advised Mrs Jermyn to go home and rest.

A matter of only a few hours later Charlie was born in the toilet at home. The Inquest heard that the circumstances of his birth probably played no part in Charlie contracting an infection and his subsequent death. Despite showing signs of illness at an early stage he was not referred to hospital for treatment.

Charlie Jermyn died on 10 May, at about 30 hours old.

The case highlights the need for all medical professionals and indeed, parents, to be aware of the signs of sepsis. The Sepsis Trust provide useful guidance on recognising the symptoms.

If you have experienced difficulties arising from delay in diagnosis or treatment of sepsis and wish to discuss matters, contact our experienced team on 0800 316 8892 or e-mail