Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence

Delays at Cardiff hospital leads to death of sepsis victim

A health Ombudsman has found that failure of staff at the University Hospital of Wales to follow well established guidance on the treatment of sepsis led to the death of an elderly lady.

Sepsis is a life threatening condition whereby infection is well advanced, affecting the whole body. Patients with sepsis are at risk of death if prompt treatment is not provided. Under the guidance, the patient should have been seen within 10 minutes of arrival, given the symptoms that she was displaying. She was in fact not seen by a doctor for over 3 hours, which can be the difference between life and death. There was also a six hour delay in her receiving antibiotics; the first line of defence against Sepsis.

Criticisms were also made by the Ombudsman of poor record keeping and errors in following the Trusts complaints handling guidance.

A spokesperson for the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said that they recognised they could have improved aspects of the care provided that the ombudsman’s recommendation would be implemented. Ruth Walker, Executive Nurse Director, said “the health board recognises the risks posed by sepsis and we have been working hard to raise awareness amongst all staff of symptoms and steps to take to help save lives”.

The symptoms of sepsis usually develop very quickly, and emergency treatment should be sought immediately if you suspect that you may be at risk. Common symptoms include:

  • High temperature;
  • Chills and shivering;
  • Fast heartbeat and breathing.

These can then develop into symptoms of septic shock, at which point medical help is life critical:

  • Feeling dizzy or faint;
  • Confusion or disorientation;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Diarrhoea;
  • Cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin.

Clarke Willmott’s specialist clinical negligence solicitors have expertise in sepsis claims, and can be contacted on 0800 316 8892 at our Cardiff office, should you wish to discuss a case.