Husband Of Woman Who Died In Overcrowded And Understaffed London Hospital After Staff Missed Signs Of Sepsis Hopes Lessons Are Learned From Her Death

Inquest Heard Cheryl Cope’s Attending Doctor Was Side-tracked Because Of Staff Sickness And Lack Of Beds

14.10.2016

Hayley Court, Press Officer | 0114 274 4255

The husband of a woman who died in an overcrowded London hospital after doctors missed “clear symptoms of sepsis” hopes lessons are learned over her death.

Cheryl Cope, an interior designer from Haringey, London had been suffering with flu-like symptoms for two weeks when she was admitted to Whittington Hospital at around 6.45am on February 27, this year.

She was put in the Urgent Care Unit but a doctor who saw her admitted became side-tracked due to staff sickness absence and a lack of free beds for patients who had filled the busy A&E.

Cheryl’s devastated husband, Jonathan, instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the care 51-year-old Cheryl received in the hours leading up to her death and to determine whether anything could have been done to prevent it.

Irwin Mitchell represented Jonathan at the three-day inquest into Cheryl’s death, in which Coroner Jackie Devonshire, delivering a verdict of natural causes today, concluded that it was impossible to determine whether Cheryl would have survived had she received prompt treatment.

Jonathan said: “Words cannot begin to explain the loss of my darling wife Cheryl. Her loss has left a massive hole in my life – we had so much more to do.
“I would like to thank my family and friends for supporting me over the course of the inquest.

“I am committed to raising the awareness of sepsis with the UK Sepsis Trust and the Whittington Hospital, so I can prevent any other family having to go through what we have had to go through over the last seven months.”

Jonathan told the three-day hearing at Poplar Coroner’s Court that he developed flu symptoms after returning from a business trip to France on February 11 this year, with Cheryl developing flu “three or four days behind [him] symptom-wise.”

On February 27 Cheryl was coughing badly and needed to use the walls for support. Jonathan told the hearing she told him he needed to take her to The Whittington.
Despite being put in the Urgent Care Unit doctors failed to identify “clear symptoms of sepsis”, blood poisoning condition, which causes the major organs to shut down.

As her condition worsened, Cheryl was given antibiotics and put on an intravenous drip, but it was not until more than five hours later that she was diagnosed with sepsis. She died in the early hours of February 28.

Addressing Jonathan during the hearing, Mrs Devonshire, said: “Your wife presented with clear symptoms of sepsis. The hospital acknowledges this was not recognised.”

Alisha Puri, expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing Jonathan, said: “Sepsis is a devastating condition which affects 150,000 people every year in the UK, resulting in 44,000 deaths. This number of people dying from sepsis in the UK is extremely troubling as the condition can be treated by a course of antibiotics if diagnosed quickly.

“In our work we have seen numerous cases where the symptoms of sepsis have not been spotted or where patients have not been started on treatment soon enough, which have a devastating impact on the family and friends of those who have lost their lives.

“We hope today’s findings will mean lessons can be learned so no one else suffers as Cheryl did.

“We are continuing to support Jonathan as we examine the coroner’s report and advise him on the next steps available to him.”