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Written by Sita Soni

Boyes Turner’s medical negligence lawyers have secured a £95,000 compensation settlement for the family of a woman who died in hospital after delays by the emergency department (A&E) to diagnose and treat her for sepsis. The claim was brought by her adult children who were partially dependent on her running and care of the family home and her modest income as a shopkeeper.

Signs of sepsis missed by A&E

The deceased attended the A&E department with a history of feeling unwell, feverish and confused, suffering from rigors (a sign of infection). She had type 2 diabetes and was noted to have an abscess on her right foot, and she was experiencing pain on passing urine. At the time that she was first seen she was alert and able to talk with hospital staff coherently, but tests and observations revealed signs of infection. She became confused and was noted to be showing features of sepsis. A plan was made to administer intravenous (IV) fluids and antibiotics to treat the infection.

Antibiotics were delayed by four hours and 18 failed attempts to insert a cannula

When sepsis is suspected, intravenous antibiotics should be started within an hour. In this case, antibiotic treatment was delayed whilst doctors and nurses tried, but failed, to insert the cannula (tube inserted into a vein) to administer the antibiotic medication. After 18 attempts, over a period of four hours, they finally asked a registrar to place a central line (longer term tube into a vein in the chest), but before this was done, the deceased suffered a cardiac arrest and died. A post-mortem confirmed that her cause of death was septic shock.

Investigation and inquest

The hospital’s own investigation confirmed that they had failed to give the deceased the best chance of survival. During the inquest which followed, the coroner concluded that there were missed opportunities to provide treatment which might have prevented her death.

Claim for compensation

We helped the deceased’s adult daughter make a claim on behalf of her deceased mother’s estate and for the three adult children for their loss of dependency on the deceased’s income and services (including cooking and care of the household).

The defendant hospital accepted that they had failed to start the treatment for sepsis within an hour or notice her deterioration. They also accepted that the prolonged and painful repeated attempts to insert the cannula should have been stopped earlier to focus on inserting a central line to administer the necessary medication. After initially denying that earlier treatment would have resulted in the deceased’s survival, they later accepted that if antibiotics and other treatment for sepsis had begun in a timely manner, the deceased would probably have survived.

We issued court proceedings and obtained judgment on liability. The case settled for £95,000 compensation. Our client’s family also received a formal apology.

If you or a member of your family have suffered serious injury as a result of negligent medical care, and you would like to find out more about making a claim, contact us by email at