Woman Faced Further Treatment Delay After Being Admitted To Hospital With Sepsis
A former nurse is calling for lessons to be learned after a hospital failed to diagnose that her knee replacement had become infected for three months.
Jayne Elliott, from North Shields, attended medical appointments several times complaining of pain, swelling and redness in her right knee in the weeks after undergoing replacement surgery.
On three occasions staff at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital did not consider she could have a deep joint infection.
Jayne’s condition became so bad that more than three months after first attending Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, she was admitted and diagnosed with sepsis – a life-threatening condition where the body attacks itself in response to an infection.
There was a further two-day delay in her undergoing surgery to drain fluid from her infected joint.
Following her ordeal, Jayne instructed specialist medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care under Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital.
Jayne’s legal team have now secured her an undisclosed settlement after the Trust admitted liability.
Expert Opinion“Despite suffering from arthritis in her knee for a number of years Jayne had always led an independent life. She hoped that the replacement surgery would allow her to continue to do so.
“However, the last few years and the consequences of the delays in diagnosing her infection have greatly affected her quality of life.
“The Trust has admitted worrying issues in the care Jayne received. Many of the problems she has faced could have been reduced if her infection had been diagnosed earlier and the necessary surgery carried out sooner.
“We now call on the Trust to ensure it learns lessons from Jayne’s case to improve patient care.” Michelle Thomson - Solicitor
Jayne underwent a right knee replacement at North Tyneside Hospital, also run by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, on 7 February, 2017.
On 8 March, 2017, she started complaining that her knee was red and swollen and she had a raised temperature. Two days later she visited A&E at North Tyneside Hospital and was referred to Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital. Following tests she was discharged with antibiotics and painkillers for a review in six days’ time. Staff did not consider her knee might be infected.
During the follow up appointment she was diagnosed as having the skin condition cellulitis. No tests to check her inflammatory markers – which would indicate a potential infection - were carried out and no consideration given as to whether her replacement joint had become infected.
On 23 March 2017 she again visited Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital. Inflammatory marker tests were not conducted and no consideration given as to whether her joint was infected. Jayne was told to continue taking antibiotics that had been supplied.
Over the coming weeks Jayne continued to experience pain and swelling. She was admitted to Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital on 18 June. She was placed on a gastroenterology ward and faced a two-day delay in undergoing a procedure to drain fluid from her knee which was carried out on 20 June. The next day she also had surgery to remove the infected joint and tissue.
Jayne was discharged from hospital on 29 June. In December that year she underwent a second operation to replace her right knee joint.
She said: “Prior to my knee replacement I was independent and enjoyed gardening, walking my dog, going shopping and to the gym and swimming.
“For weeks after the replacement surgery I didn’t feel well but by the June it got that bad I could hardly function any longer.
“The weather was warm and my temperature seemed to be getting higher and higher. I was really thirsty and nauseous.
“When I was admitted to hospital I was put on a gastroenterology ward for some reason. The staff didn’t really look at my leg. By this stage it looked like tree trunk. I could hardly move it and thought I was going to die.
“It was only after a couple of days that it was explained how poorly I was and I underwent a procedure to drain my knee.”
Jayne added: “What has happened has had a significant impact on me. I don’t feel that I’m the same person as I was. I feel a lot more anxious than I used to and I’m afraid my knee will flare up again. I seem to be in a lot of pain with my knee still.
“Having been a nurse I know the challenges medical staff face. However, I still don’t really understand how more thought wasn’t given to whether my knee could have been infected, particularly as my condition wasn’t really improving.
“I just hope that by speaking out it help raise awareness of the issues I faced to prevent others having to go through what I have.”
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust admitted breaches in the duty of care Jayne received in connection to her care on 10 March, 16 March, 27 March and 18 June, 2017.
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