Woman Joins Medical Negligence Lawyers In Calling For Lessons To Be Learned
A mum left fighting for her life because of sepsis is calling for lessons to be learned following NHS failures in recognising signs of the condition and a subsequent delay in administering antibiotics.
Shelly Young was readmitted to Royal Berkshire Hospital four days after surgery to remove placenta which became stuck when she gave birth to son Maxwell.
During an at home appointment with a maternity support worker two days before her readmission, Shelly, of Thatcham, complained she was struggling to walk and was in incredible pain. She said she was violently shaking, had a high temperature and was very confused, a NHS investigation report said.
Sepsis signs put down to the flu, report finds
The maternity worker said Shelly, aged 33, probably had the flu, the report seen by expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell said. There was no evidence that Shelly’s concerns were flagged to more senior staff.
After arriving at hospital Shelly didn’t receive intravenous antibiotics for seven hours despite showing red flag signs of sepsis, the report added.
She spent two days in a side room on the hospital’s delivery suite. However, she was admitted to intensive care after she continued to deteriorate.
Shelly, who is married to Kyle, aged 33, underwent emergency surgery to remove part of the placenta and was placed in a coma. She spent eight days in an induced coma, undergoing further emergency surgery to remove an ovarian abscess believed to be the source of the infection. As a result, Shelly underwent a partial hysterectomy.
Shelly spent 11 days in intensive care. She also lost part of her left ear after developing a pressure sore as a result of an oxygen clip being attached to her ear while in intensive care.
Medical negligence lawyers asked to investigate sepsis care
Shelly, has instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care under Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust which runs Royal Berkshire Hospital.
She and her legal team are now raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of the condition and calling for lessons to be learned.
It comes after a serious incident root cause analysis report by the Trust found there was a failure to escalate Shelly’s concerns to a more senior midwife during her home appointment.
Once in hospital there was also a delay in starting sepsis treatment and a delay in escalating her care when Shelly failed to respond to initial treatment, the report found.
Expert Opinion“The first-hand account we’ve heard from Shelly and the issues identified in the Trust’s report are extremely worrying.
“They indicate that more still needs to be done to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of sepsis. While incredibly dangerous, early diagnosis and treatment are key to beating it.
“While nothing can make up for her ordeal Shelly hopes she can help make others aware of the signs of sepsis by sharing her story.
“We’ll continue to support Shelly and join her in supporting this incredibly important campaign.
“We welcome the Trust’s pledge to learn lessons from what happened to Shelly. It’s vital that these are now upheld to improve patient safety.” Emily Mansfield - Solicitor
Sepsis: Shelly Young's story
Shelly gave birth to Maxwell on 13 November, 2019. Hours later she underwent surgery to remove the placenta.
She and her baby were sent home the following day.
On 15 November a community midwife visited Shelly at home. No concerns were reported.
During a follow up maternity visit on 16 November Shelly raised concerns about her condition. However, the maternity support worker told her it was likely to be the flu and that Shelly should rest, the serious incident report said.
There was no evidence Shelly’s condition had been escalated to a more senior community midwife.
On November 18 Shelly visited a GP who referred her to hospital with suspected sepsis.
Shelly was admitted to the delivery suite. Later that day medics discussed whether Shelly should be transferred to intensive care. However, a registrar said there was limited capacity to admit patients to intensive care or the higher monitoring unit, the report said.
Shelly was transferred to intensive care in the early hours of November 21. She was diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome – a life-threatening condition where the lungs can’t provide organs with enough oxygen – and underwent surgery to remove parts of the placenta.
Two days later, on 23 November, following a review among senior doctors, Shelly underwent further surgery to remove the ovarian abscess.
The report added that on 24 November the severity of Shelly’s condition was explained to her family.
Shelly remained in a coma until 29 November and in intensive care until 2 December. She was transferred to a ward and had to undergo further surgery to remove a drain which had been sewn into her abdomen during surgery on 23 November.
She was discharged on 2 December.
Report makes recommendations to improve care
The serious incident report made a number of recommendations. These include maternity support workers undergoing sepsis training as well as being expected to document all patient concerns in notes.
Maternity staff at the hospital should also undergo annual sepsis training.
Shelly who has three other children, Olivia, Freddie and Alexander, said she now suffers with constant pain, including in her chest, and muscle spasms and weakness. She has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, post-intensive care syndrome and post-sepsis syndrome, she added.
Mum's sepsis warning after developing life-threatening condition
Shelly said: “What should have been a happy time for me and Kyle has been totally overshadowed by everything that happened to me.
“It should have been such a special and precious time getting to bond with Maxwell. Instead I was in a coma in intensive care fighting for my life. I can only imagine the pain Kyle and the rest of my family were going through at that time.
“While it’s nearly two years ago I continue to be very upset and traumatised by what happened. It’s still hard not to get angry and emotional. However, in a way I know I’m lucky as I’m still here with my family and things could have worked out very differently.
“Sepsis is an absolutely horrendous condition and more has to be done to raise awareness of how dangerous it is. I just hope that by speaking out I can help others.”
Find out more about our expertise in supporting people and their families affected by sepsis at our dedicated medical negligence section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.
The signs of sepsis
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