NHS Investigation Failed To Find Cause Over Boy's Sepsis Death

Two Reviews Investigate The Death Criticising The Work Of Four Organisations

20.07.2016

Saffron Otter, Press Officer | 0114 276 4666

Medical negligence solicitors at Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office say errors are unacceptable when it comes to matters over life and death after it is found that NHS workers failed to investigate how service blunders led to a boy’s sepsis death.

It is the second review into the death of three-year-old Sam Morrish from Devon by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

The first report in 2014 found that four health service groups made errors, with the second review investigating Sam’s death.

Those under scrutiny after the boy’s death in 2010 were the Cricketfield GP Surgery, NHS Direct, Devon Doctors Ltd, and South Devon NHS Trust.

The first report was driven by complaint’s made by the boy’s parents about the care that he received by the four organisations. And the most recent review looks at criticisms about how their son’s death was investigated by organisations, as well as the Primary Care Trust.

NHS England said it wanted staff to "acknowledge when mistakes are made.”

Sepsis happens when the immune system goes into overdrive, and according to official statistics, it accounts to 60,000 deaths a year, 12,000 of which are avoidable according to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The second report concluded: "We think that a fundamental failure in this case was the organisations' - in particular the Trust's - unwillingness to accept that any view other than their own initial view might not be the right one.

"Those involved appeared to accept almost immediately the view that Sam's death was rare and unfortunate rather than being open to other possibilities".
It also found the investigation processes were "not sufficiently independent" and "excluded the family and junior staff in the process".

Julie Lewis, medical negligence expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office, said:

Expert Opinion
“Sepsis is a devastating condition but there are very obvious red flag signs which were missed in this case. Errors are unacceptable when it comes to matters over life and death.

“We work closely with UK Sepsis Trust to raise awareness of the condition and only last week it was announced that the health secretary is implementing a Public Health campaign for sepsis, which is promising.

“More must be done to educate our doctors so that the condition is recognised earlier when the chances of survival are significantly greater. Lessons must be learned from the tragic death of Sam so that no other family has to go through what they have.”
Julie Lewis, Partner