Man Died After Six-Hour Treatment Delay As Medics Failed To Diagnose Sepsis

Specialist Medical Lawyers At Irwin Mitchell Secure Admission Of Liability From NHS Trust Responsible

27.10.2015

A Southend man who died from a treatable condition despite his family taking him to A&E and calling an ambulance twice within a six-hour period are speaking out after the ambulance trust responsible apologised and admitted a series of failings with his care.

Steven “Jacko” Jackson, passed away on March 5th 2014 after he attended the Accident and Emergency department at Southend Hospital around 7am, complaining of difficulty breathing and swallowing.

The 37-year-old was sent home but, just three hours later, his fiancée had to call an ambulance as his condition continued to deteriorate. Paramedics provided treatment but stated he did not need hospital care and just three hours later, after another ambulance was called at around 1pm, he suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

His family instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate Steven’s death and now the law firm has secured an admission of liability from The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust which has also sent a letter of apology to the family.

Now, following a two-day inquest into his death at Chelmsford Coroner’s Court concluded today (27th October) and HM Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray recorded a narrative conclusion and said: “There were very serious failings in the care Steven Jackson received from the ambulance staff.  With the appropriate and timely treatment Steven would most likely have survived.”

The Coroner also said she would be sending a Regulation 28 report to the East of England Ambulance NHS Trust recommending that ambulance staff are trained in the Sepsis tool and also will be sending the report to the General Medical Council (GMC) to ensure that GPs are up to date with Epiglottis protocol.

A Serious Untoward Incident report investigating his death found the following failings by the Ambulance Trust:

  • Ambulance staff said Steven was suffering from a simple viral infection
  • They failed to identify four Sepsis markers
  • They decided not to take Steven to the hospital for treatment.
Expert Opinion
“Steven’s family have been left completely heartbroken after losing him – it has been incredibly difficult for them to not only having to try to cope with their loss but also come to terms with the fact that more could and should have been done to help him.

“I would like to thank the Coroner for conducting a thorough investigation into Steven’s death. The East of England Ambulance NHS Trust carried out their own Serious Untoward Incident report which found that ambulance staff identified his condition as a viral infection and did not notice the signs of sepsis – which, if treated properly, would have saved his life.

“We are continuing to work with the family who are desperate to ensure that lessons are learned from his case and that patient safety is improved to prevent other people suffering the same problems that he endured.”
Louise Forsyth, Associate

Steven worked as a Steel Erector and had been suffering from a sore throat for several days when his condition failed to improve and his fiancée Shelly took him to A&E at Southend Hospital. At around 7am on March 5th, an out-of-hours doctor told him to purchase over the counter medication and sent him home.

At 10am, an ambulance was called to his home as his condition deteriorated, with his fiancée describing that he looked pale with purple lips. Paramedics spent an hour assessing him before diagnosing a virus and saying he did not require hospital treatment. At 1pm, another ambulance was called and Steven suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

It was subsequently identified that Steven was suffering from epiglottitis, the inflammation and swelling of the epiglottis behind the root of the tongue which is regarded as a medical emergency and can significantly restrict oxygen supply to the lungs and is treated with antibiotics.

A complaint was also made to East of England Ambulance NHS Trust and the chief executive issued a letter of apology to the family, accepting that paramedics should have spotted an underlying condition and also should have sent Steven to hospital for acute assessment and treatment.

Simon Watkins, Steven’s brother-in-law, said: “His family and all his many friends have been left completely devastated by losing Steve and even though the inquest has gone some way to help us understand what happened, it is unbearable to think that basic steps were not followed to diagnose his condition.

“Epiglottitis is a critical condition, but one which is treatable with antibiotics. The family now know that had he received appropriate treatment he would still be alive and with us today. This makes losing him even more difficult to bear.

“The NHS Trust found that staff failed to identify four separate indicators of sepsis and failed to take a sufficient history of previous hospital attendance into account which led to a failure to appreciate the severity of the situation – and the decision not to take Steve to hospital. Steven’s death could have been avoided if they had taken the seriousness of his condition into account.

“We just hope that his death is not in vain and that action is taken to improve training so that this cannot happen again to others in a similar situation. The family would also like to thank all of our and Steven's many friends for their huge support and best wishes during what has been a difficult legal process so far.”