Death of a mother of two recorded as natural causes - Family to commence a civil claim

Inquest into mothers death

29.11.2005

29/11/2005

An inquest into the death of a woman who died six days after giving birth to her baby at Kingston Hospital, Kingston-Upon-Thames, Surrey, has been recorded as natural causes.

Jessica Palmer (34), died from multi organ failure as a result of Group A streptococcal septicaemia on the 30th June 2004, having given birth to her second child, Emily, on the 24th June 2004.

Evidence given at the two day inquest, which took place at West London coroner's court, heard by deputy coroner Elizabeth Pyggot, indicated that there had been concerns about Jessica's condition on the morning of her discharge from hospital, that she had a very high temperature soon after she got home, and was feverish for the next two days. Despite there being symptoms which could and should have led to her being diagnosed, she was only readmitted to hospital five days later.

Commenting on this morning's verdict, Claire Fazan, from national law firm, Irwin Mitchell, the solicitors representing the family, said: "Whilst we are surprised and disappointed by the verdict, the inquest has provided a lot of information about what happened between Jessica's baby's delivery and her death. Some of what we have heard has, frankly, been quite breathtaking. For example, we now know that the reason the midwife did not take Jessica's temperature on the Sunday when she complained of being feverish, was because she had not taken a thermometer with her.

It is clear from the evidence that we have heard that Jessica should have been referred back to hospital earlier and that had she been, she would probably still be alive today. I anticipate that we will be commencing a civil claim shortly.

The facts of this case raise wider questions about how professionals caring for women in the post-natal period - both in hospital and in the community - communicate information about the condition of those women in order to ensure vital and potentially life saving information is made available to those taking over the care. It is perhaps disappointing that the coroner did not use the opportunity to make recommendations about how those communications could be improved for the future."

Mr Palmer, Jessica's husband commented: "My wife lost her life in June of last year, at a time that should have been filled with joy and expectation for her, for me and our children, and for our families. Many lives have been shattered by a tragedy that could and should have been avoided.

Child Bed Fever is not consigned to history, but it ought to be. Although I have little medical knowledge, I now understand that the symptoms are well documented and can be easily recognised.

Jessica's parents and I strongly believe that something must come out of this tragedy to help prevent anything like it ever happening again.

Jessica died many months ago, but her name and her plight should be on the tongue of any expectant parent and in the mind of anyone caring for a pregnant or newly delivered mother.

I am determined that no other family should have to live through a tragedy like the one we have suffered."