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Family Receives Compensation After Mum Died Due To Misdiagnosis Of Bacterial Infection

Our medical negligence solicitors have secured a six-figure compensation settlement for a family whose mum died from a ‘flesh-eating disease’ that doctors failed to diagnose.

On 18th May 2013, Stowmarket mum Helen Edgar suddenly became ill. She suffered sickness, diarrhoea, headache, fever and a severe pain under her right arm.

She went to A&E at the West Suffolk Hospital the next day with continuing arm pain. She was diagnosed with a sprain and sent home with anti-inflammatory drugs.

Helen went back to hospital the next day because the pain had got worse and the sickness and diarrhoea continued. Hospital staff treated her for suspected blood clots but her condition worsened over the coming hours and she was admitted to intensive care.

The next morning, on the 21st May, doctors started to suspect that Helen was suffering from a rare 'flesh-eating' bacterial infection called necrotising fasciitis. She underwent a CT scan and exploratory surgery but the theory was rejected.

Doctors dismissed the possibility of necrotising fasciitis twice again on the 24th May and it wasn’t until the 25th that they raised concerns about the infection.

Helen was transferred to Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge, where a second instance of exploratory surgery did find extensive necrotising fasciitis in her torso. Doctors treated the infection but it was too late – Helen died of multiple organ failure the next day, less than a week after she first visited hospital.

She was 41 years old and is survived by two children and her husband, Ian.

Helen’s family contacted our medical negligence lawyers and asked us to investigate the care that she had received from the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

We represented the family at a High Court hearing where the NHS Trust admitted that the delayed diagnosis constituted a failure in its duty of care towards Helen. They accepted full liability and the Judge approved a compensation settlement of £415,000 for Helen’s family.

“It has been very difficult for me to come to terms with Helen’s death because she could still be here with us today had it not been for the hospital’s negligence,” said Ian. “We had the rest of our lives to spend together which has now been snatched away from us.

“Nothing can turn the clock back. I just hope that lessons have been learned so no other families have to endure the heart-break we have had to go through following Helen’s death.”

Clinical negligence solicitor Alexandra Winch worked on Helen’s case. “Hospitals have a duty of care to look after patients and tragically, in Helen’s case, the level of care she received fell below what people should expect,” she said.

“Nothing can make up for the family’s loss or bring Helen back but we are grateful that the Trust has admitted liability. It now vital that the Trust ensures measures are in place to prevent a repeat of Helen’s unnecessary death and the subsequent pain the family have gone through.”

If you or a family member have suffered due to substandard care during a hospital visit, you may be able to make a medical negligence compensation claim. See our hospital negligence claims page for more information.

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