Hospital Trust Admits Suffolk Grandad-Of-Seven Would Probably Have Survived If He Had Been Admitted
A wife is warning of the dangers of sepsis following her husband’s death two days after he was wrongly sent home from hospital following a work accident.
Stephen Corke was discharged from Tunbridge Wells Hospital with painkillers and crutches when he should have been admitted for further observation, the Trust which runs the hospital said. The previous day a pneumatic drill had fallen on his right foot.
The day after he was discharged, Stephen, known as Steve, was admitted to another hospital. The 60-year-old underwent emergency surgery but died the following morning – less than two days after he was allowed to leave Tunbridge Wells Hospital.
Steve was a dad-of-five – a dad-of-two and a step-dad of three - and a grandfather-of-seven. Following his death his wife Gillian, of Great Cornard, Suffolk, instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his care under Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, which runs Tunbridge Wells Hospital.
The Trust has admitted it breached its duty of care towards Steve. If Steve had been admitted he probably would have survived, the Trust acknowledged.
Gillian has now joined her legal team at Irwin Mitchell in using World Sepsis Day on 13 September to warn of the dangers of sepsis, a condition which sees the body attack itself in response to an infection.
Expert Opinion“Steve’s death vividly highlights the devastating consequences of sepsis and how early detection and treatment are so important. Whilst Gill and her family are still coming to terms with the loss of Steve, we welcome the Trust’s admission of liability.
“Sepsis is incredibly dangerous but it can be treatable if diagnosed early. It’s absolutely vital that lessons are learned from Steve’s death so that others don’t have to face the heartbreak that Gill and her family have.” Anna Vroobel - Associate Solicitor
Steve, a plumbing and heating engineer, was working on a construction site in Kent when a pneumatic drill fell on his right foot on 14 August, 2018. Despite trying to work on, his foot became painful and the pain worsened. Steve was driven to A&E at Tunbridge Wells Hospital, arriving just before 5pm on 15 August.
Steve reported that he had felt shivery that afternoon and said that his pain was 10/10. He was given morphine and once it was established that Steve had not fractured his foot, he was discharged.
However, Steve continued to be in pain and on 16 August he was driven home by a concerned colleague. Gill saw Steve’s leg was blistered, red and swollen and took him straight to hospital. Steve, who had a temperature of 39.5 degrees, was diagnosed with compartment syndrome.
Steve underwent emergency surgery to treat the compartment syndrome. At around 2.30am on 17 August Steve suffered a cardiac arrest, believed to be caused by a lack of blood flow to his injured leg. Surgeons subsequently amputated Steve’s right leg but despite the efforts of his doctors, Steve sadly died later that morning. A post-mortem examination determined that Steve’s death was caused by sepsis.
Through its lawyers Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust accepted that if Steve had been admitted for further monitoring on 15 August inflammation markers would have alerted staff to the fact that he had an infection and Steve would have received antibiotics by 9pm. Although he would have still required surgery to remove infected tissue he would have survived, it added.
Gillian, a learning centre manager at West Suffolk College, said: “Steve was fit and active. He was a loving, caring and considerate husband and a real family man.
“Steve had a very positive outlook on life and we considered ourselves very lucky and in a fortunate place.
“He was our rock and everyone’s hero. He was always there to come to our rescue and sort us out; whether it was running out of petrol, problems with technology or fixing leaking pipes. He was a real problem solver and nothing was too much bother for him.
“He loved music, football, cricket and scuba diving and would always go on a big diving trip each year.
“When I saw Steve I knew immediately that he wasn’t right. I could see how red and swollen his leg was and that he needed to get to hospital.
“Once I took him to hospital I can’t thank enough the doctors for everything they tried to do to help Steve but by then it was too late.
“We all still miss Steve so much. What makes his death harder to accept is that Steve would still be with us if his condition had been spotted sooner.
“Steve was a genuinely wonderful man. We just hope we can honour his memory by making people understand how dangerous sepsis is and raising awareness of its symptoms.”
Following Steve’s death, Gill has undertaken various fundraising activities for the charity UK Sepsis Trust.
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.
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting families affected by sepsis at our medical negligence section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.
For more information on sepsis and its symptoms visit sepsistrust.org