Investigation Finds Woman Should Have Received Correct Antibiotics To Fight Condition 12 Hours Earlier
A mum is campaigning to raise awareness of the signs of sepsis after a delay in diagnosing she had the life-threatening condition during childbirth.
Lydia Powell should have been administered the correct antibiotics aimed at beating sepsis 12 hours before she was during labour at the Royal Gwent Hospital, an internal investigation has found.
The 22-year-old, of Newport, South Wales, suffered an acute kidney injury. Her baby Henry was born in a good condition and was given antibiotics as a precaution.
Lydia only discovered she had developed sepsis - which sees the body attack itself in response to an infection - once she got home and read through her discharge papers.
She instructed expert lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate whether more should have been done to diagnose and treat her condition sooner.
Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, which runs Royal Gwent Hospital, admitted failings in Lydia’s care. It acknowledged there was a delay in implementing a sepsis pathway which resulted in a 12 hour delay in administering the correct antibiotics.
If Lydia had been given the correct treatment earlier, on the balance of probabilities, she would not have suffered her acute kidney injury which resulted in her having to spend an additional two days in hospital, the Board added.
It has apologised to her.
Lydia and her legal team are now marking World Sepsis Day on 13 September by warning of the dangers of sepsis and the importance of early detection and treatment.
Expert Opinion“What should have been such a joyous occasion for Lydia has been overshadowed by the events that happened.
“To some extent Lydia is fortunate that delays in diagnosing and treating her sepsis didn’t have far worse reaching consequences for her or Henry. For her only to discover she had sepsis after she left hospital is also worrying. Transparency between staff and patients is key to upholding public confidence in the health service.
“While we welcome the Health Board’s subsequent admission and apology we hope that lessons are also learned from Lydia’s care.
“Sepsis is incredibly dangerous so awareness of the signs and symptoms are key to beating it.” Shay Williams - Solicitor
Following appointments during the course of her pregnancy it was decided that Lydia would be induced at 39 weeks.
Lydia was induced just after 2.30pm on 16 June, 2019. During the evening it was noted that she was passing liquid, one reason for which could be a potential infection.
Further observations took place before Lydia was transferred to the main delivery unit at around 4am on 17 June.
At 5.50am the results of blood tests indicated Lydia had a slightly raised white cell count - which help fight infection. Her C-reactive protein level, a substance produced by the liver which can be in response to an infection, was also raised.
She underwent a further examination that morning, including a heart rate test, but it was deemed she did not have an infection.
Checks at around 3.15pm showed her temperature was slightly elevated. Lydia was given intravenous antibiotics. However, at 5.15pm she was given the correct type to combat sepsis.
Henry was delivered in a good condition at around 10.50pm
He was discharged from the special care baby unit on 19 June and continued to be given antibiotics. The pair were sent home on 22 June.
The Board acknowledged Lydia could have been started on a sepsis treatment pathway at 5.50am on 17 June.
Lydia said: “It remains very hard to look back on everything that has happened. In a way I know I’m lucky as others with sepsis have much worse outcomes than me.
“However, the last year or so has been incredibly difficult. I’m angry that I only found out I had sepsis after I went home and started reading through my discharge notes. I feel that I should have been told about sepsis and why I was receiving the treatment I did. My labour was particularly traumatic. I was already an anxious person and while I try not to think about it, what happened in hospital and the thoughts of what might have happened to Henry or myself has caused more anxiety.
“While in a way I feel lucky, the impact that the condition has had on me cannot be overstated.”
Since her illness Lydia has started exercising more and taking more of an interest in nutrition, particularly during lockdown.
She is now planning on taking part in a 10 kilometre run to raise money for the charity UK Sepsis Trust.
Lydia added: “I didn’t really know much about sepsis until I found out that I had it. It’s only reading up on it afterwards that I realised how dangerous it can be.
“I’m so grateful to all those who have supported me over the past few months so I thought taking part in a run is my small way of giving something back.
“I just hope that by speaking out more people become aware of the symptoms.”
Signs of sepsis include slurred speech, confusion, extreme shivering and muscle pain, passing no urine in a day, severe breathlessness and mottled or discoloured skin.
For more information visit www.sepsistrust.org
For more on Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting families affected by sepsis visit our medical negligence section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.