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Written on 14th September 2023 by Sita Soni

Boyes Turner’s sepsis claims lawyers have secured a £1.6 million settlement for a client who needed multiple amputations after negligent hospital treatment of sepsis. Throughout the claim, the hospital trust denied that their staff’s negligent failure to recognise our client’s signs of sepsis and promptly provide treatment with antibiotics and critical care led to the need for amputations affecting both legs and hands. We pushed the case towards trial and the defendant trust eventually accepted an out-of-court settlement which will provide lifelong care, prosthetics, adapted accommodation and therapeutic support for our client.

Delayed diagnosis and treatment of sepsis

Our client (the patient) was taken by ambulance to the hospital’s emergency (A&E) department with right-sided abdominal pain and a history of vomiting for three days.  The paramedics suspected appendicitis. The patient was assessed as low risk for sepsis in A&E, using a sepsis 6 screening tool, and was suspected to have an acute kidney injury.

In the early hours of the next morning, the patient was admitted to the surgical ward, and deteriorated further. Over the next few hours, a nurse escalated concerns to a doctor who recommended oxygen, increased IV fluids and further blood tests, and a discussion with a more senior doctor. Further attempts were made by the nurse to escalate the patient’s deteriorating condition to a nurse practitioner but they were busy dealing with another patient. A doctor discussed the patient’s deteriorating condition with an ITU registrar and IV antibiotics were prescribed. At a later review, a doctor recommended rapid IV fluids, oxygen, IV antibiotics, D-dimer testing (for blood clots), further blood tests and further discussion with the ITU registrar, as the patient now had two organ system failures. Fluids were administered and the patient was reviewed by further doctors but continued to deteriorate.

Sepsis was diagnosed and IV antibiotics were finally started seven hours after the patient’s admission to the surgical ward and four hours after they were first prescribed. The patient then waited a further two hours before being transferred to ITU for critical care. CT scans revealed abnormalities in the lungs, ureter and kidney. The patient was ventilated and needed haemofiltration for renal (kidney) support.

Over the next few days, the patient’s feet and hands were noted to be cold and dusky. Sepsis was confirmed and IV antibiotics were continued. A tracheostomy was performed to make a surgical opening through the front of the neck into the windpipe to manage the patient’s airway and make it easier to breathe. Over the following weeks our client underwent below-knee amputations to both legs and amputation to the digits of both hands and suffered a psychological injury.

Making a claim for compensation for injuries caused by delayed hospital treatment

We helped our client make a medical negligence compensation claim based on the hospital staff’s delay in recognising and acting on signs of sepsis. The claim included multiple allegations of negligence, including delayed referral to an appropriately senior doctor or critical care specialist, more than 3 hours delay in giving IV antibiotics, failing to monitor properly, administer oxygen, or control the source of infection, and delays in transfer from the ward to ITU for critical care. Our experts believed that with correct care our client’s infection and sepsis would not have progressed and any injury from peripheral ischaemia would have been less severe.

The defendant hospital trust admitted negligent delays in the diagnosis of sepsis and prescription of antibiotics but denied that our client’s injuries would have been avoided with correct care, or that their mistakes were the cause of the amputations.

Compensation to meet our client’s needs for care, prosthetics and adapted accommodation

Our client suffered a severe reduction in mobility and independence and is at increased risk of further injury from falling. The compensation settlement will help pay for prosthetics, a wheelchair, adapted single level accommodation, care and assistance and other disability-related needs.   

Our client kindly commented:  'Sita, thank you so much for the lovely work and your patience afforded to me through a difficult time.  Your support and kindness I shall always remember with much gratitude. I just wanted to put in writing how incredibly impressed I am with the way you look after your clients.'

If you have suffered severe injury as a result of medical negligence or have been contacted by HSIB/HSSIB/MNSI/CQC or NHS Resolution, you can talk to a solicitor, free and confidentially, for advice about how to respond or make a claim by contacting us.