John Marland Died Of Sepsis After Pneumonia Went Untreated For Several Weeks
The family of a man who passed away after his pneumonia went untreated for several weeks are speaking out on World Sepsis Day (13th September) to call for more to be done within the NHS to ensure patients are diagnosed swiftly and receive the appropriate treatment.
John Marland, from Hyde, sadly passed away on 13th January 2013, aged 86, as a result of his pneumonia which led to sepsis, a condition that arises when the body's response to infection injures its own tissues and organs.
An initiative of the Global Sepsis Alliance, World Sepsis Day aims to promise awareness of sepsis, which is a life threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs. Sepsis leads to shock, multiple organ failure and death especially if not recognised early and treated promptly.
Sepsis is caused by the way the body responds to germs, such as bacteria, getting into the body. The infection may have started anywhere in a sufferer’s body, and may be localised or widespread. It can occur following chest or water infections, problems in the abdomen like burst ulcers, or simple skin injuries like cuts and bites.
Following his dad’s death, John’s son, Brian Marland, 56, instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the care his father received following family concerns that the failure to diagnose and treat John’s condition led to his death.
Brian, a father-of-two himself, from Stalybridge, said: “My mum and the rest of our family have been left completely devastated by losing my dad and even though the legal case has gone some way to help us understand what happened, it is unbearable to think that basic steps were not followed to diagnose and treat his condition.
“It is devastating to the whole family to think that a simple course of antibiotics could have saved my father and how the hospital has dealt with my family and I since my dad’s death has been incredibly upsetting. We have not once received an apology from the hospital trust about how they treated my dad.
“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 legal case has now been settled, however the Defendant, Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, has only admitted failing to diagnose and treat John’s pneumonia and has not admitted liability for his death, arguing that he would still have died due to his subdural haemorrhage.
Sarah Sharples, the expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Brian and the family, said:
Expert Opinion“John’s family were left devastated by his sudden death and are still coming to terms with what has happened.
“John’s case is a tragic example of what can happen when undiagnosed infections are left untreated.
“We work closely with UK Sepsis Trust to raise awareness of the condition and 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 John so that no other family has to go through what they have.” Sarah Sharples - Senior Associate Solicitor
Dr Ron Daniels BEM, Chief Executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, comments: “Stories like John’s remind us of the devastating human cost of sepsis. Every day in the UK, individuals and families have their lives torn apart by the condition, but better awareness could save thousands of lives each year.
“Whenever there are signs of infection it’s crucial that healthcare professionals ‘think sepsis’: with every hour that passes before the right antibiotics are administered, risk of death increases. Earlier recognition and treatment can save lives and mean hugely improved outcomes for those affected.”
John, who was a father-of-three and married to his wife Mary for 67 years, was admitted to Tameside General Hospital on 17th December 2012, following a fall at his home. John was originally planned for discharge from hospital once doctors were confident that he had not suffered a head injury.
He was originally due to be discharged on the 18th December however after becoming confused and agitated a CT scan confirmed he had suffered a small bleed on the brain known as a subdural haemorrhage.
As a result of his confusion the decision was taken to keep John under observation and consultants at another hospital suggested further tests be carried out to try and understand the cause of John’s confusion.
Whilst John remained an inpatient at hospital, blood tests started to show signs of infection and a chest x-ray suggested he had a possible chest infection. John underwent a course of antibiotics, however these were halted before his condition had fully resolved. Although a member of the medical team requested that another chest x-ray was taken, this never materialised and John was not reviewed by the medical team again. Instead, he remained under the care of a general surgeon due to bed shortages.
John was reviewed by a surgeon on 20th December, but was recorded as being discharged from their care and despite the fact that John’s blood tests showed ongoing infection, no other tests were ordered to investigate the cause of John’s ongoing abnormal blood tests.
By Boxing Day, John had developed a severe pain in his chest that was caused by his worsening but undiagnosed pneumonia. At the time he was examined, a doctor noted that his lips were blue in colour and observations showed that not enough oxygen was getting into his blood stream. Despite this observation, no tests were ordered and no treatment was given.
Up until his death on 13th January 2013, John’s condition continued to deteriorate with blood tests showing the infection was worsening but no action was taken. John was even discharged to a rehabilitation care home for a few days before on 10th January being readmitted to hospital due to his deteriorating condition.
At the time John was readmitted to hospital blood tests and chest x-rays confirmed that his pneumonia had developed to such an extent that it had caused sepsis. Sadly John died on 13th January 2013 after it was confirmed by doctors that John’s condition had gone too far and he could not be saved.