Woman Visited GP Days Before She Was Admitted To Hospital For Emergency Surgery
A woman left fighting for her life after developing sepsis is campaigning to raise awareness of the condition.
Laura Battrum, of Birmingham, visited a GP after she started feeling unwell following weight loss surgery designed to increase her chances of starting a family.
Laura, who complained she had a fever, breathlessness and diarrhoea, and was struggling to stand or walk unsupported, said the doctor told her to go home and take paracetamol.
Birmingham woman's emergency perforated bowel surgery
More than a week after her visit her fiancé Steve Curson called the NHS 111 helpline. Laura, of Kings Heath, was admitted to hospital where she underwent emergency surgery for a perforated bowel.
Laura was placed in an induced coma for four weeks and spent four months in hospital. She now has a permanent stoma and has to change her bag up to 12 times a day.
Medical negligence lawyers secure settlement
Following her ‘ordeal’ Laura instructed expert medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the care she received from the GP and to help her access the specialist ongoing support she requires.
Laura has joined her legal team in warning of the dangers of sepsis – which sees the body attack itself in response to an infection. It comes after the GP, through their insurer, agreed an undisclosed settlement. They denied liability.
Laura is looking to use some of her settlement to fund IVF in the hope she will be able to have a baby.
Expert Opinion“Laura hoped undergoing surgery would help her and Steve realise their dream of becoming parents.
“However, this hasn’t happened with Laura spending the last few years trying to come to terms with the physical and psychological impact sepsis has had on her life.
“While nothing can make up for what’s happened, we’re pleased to have secured Laura this settlement, allowing her to access the ongoing care and support she needs and which we hope will now allow her to try and look to the future.
“Sepsis is an incredibly dangerous condition which can lead to devastating consequences. We join Laura in urging everyone to be aware of the signs of sepsis. Early detection and treatment are key to beating it.” Jennifer Shipley - Associate Solicitor
Sepsis: Laura Battrum's story
Laura underwent gastric sleeve surgery on 3 January 2017, and was discharged the following day.
On 7 January she developed a rash on her hands and started complaining of pain when urinating. Laura, who also felt tired and lethargic, visited a GP two days later when the rash started spreading. She was prescribed steroids used to treat allergies.
Steve made an emergency GP appointment for Laura on 20 January concerned that she had a fever, was breathless and needed to be supported to stand up.
Over the coming days Laura’s condition continued to deteriorate. Steve phoned the NHS helpline on 29 January. Laura was taken to hospital by ambulance. Following tests, she was diagnosed with a perforated bowel.
She underwent emergency surgery in the early hours of 30 January. Laura underwent six further procedures to remove infected tissue from her body.
Laura was woken from her coma on 27 February and discharged home on 23 May 2017.
She had to be readmitted on 26 May 2017 and remained in hospital until 6 July 2017. Laura was then in and out of hospital for the rest of 2017 due to illness and problems with her stoma.
Patient continues to live with impact of sepsis
She now has a stoma and still continues to suffer with mobility problems and fatigue. Laura couldn’t return to her job as a health and social assessor for two years.
As part of the legal case Irwin Mitchell argued that the GP failed to carry out a number of tests, including taking Laura’s blood pressure, during the appointment on 20 January 2017. The doctor did not investigate further to rule out or diagnose potential sepsis nor did they refer Laura to hospital for further investigations, Laura’s legal team added.
Laura said: “At first I thought my pain must just have been me recovering from the sleeve surgery. However it seemed to be getting worse. It got to the point where I was struggling to remain conscious so Steve called an ambulance. After that I don’t really remember anything until I was brought out of my coma.
“It was then when the reality of how seriously ill I had been hit. The doctors said it really had been touch and go whether I was going to make it.
“Life has been a struggle ever since. I still suffer from fatigue and tire really easily. I’m conscious of my stoma. We can’t be spontaneous and just go off for the day. If I want to go out I have to plan everything in advance and know what facilities are close by.
“Me and Steve always wanted a family and thought the surgery would be the start of a new part of our lives. However, doctors have told me that I will struggle to conceive naturally because of my injuries so the only option is IVF. I’ve also been told that the chances of that being successful are also greatly reduced because of what I’ve been through.
Laura raising awareness of signs of sepsis
“We always wanted two children but to now think that we may not be able to have any is incredibly upsetting.
“I did not really know much about sepsis and how dangerous it can be before I fell ill.
“I now just want others to realise how dangerous it can be and how important it is to be aware of the possibly signs of the condition.”
Find out more about our expertise in supporting people and families affected by sepsis at our dedicate medical negligence section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.
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