Husband Had Undergone Surgery On Infected Knee Weeks Before His Death
Grieving relatives are campaigning to raise awareness of the signs of sepsis following the death of their father from the condition.
Ken Donald died four days after he was readmitted to Worcestershire Royal Hospital. His wife, Margaret, 66, and daughters, Claire and Gill Donald, aged 45 and 42, were concerned Ken, of Droitwich Spa, had not been eating, drinking or passing urine.
In the weeks prior to his death the 81-year-old had received treatment for a left knee infection and undergone surgery to replace the knee joint.
Medical negligence lawyers investigate sepsis death
Following the former supermarket worker’s death, his family instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his care.
With investigations continuing Ken’s family are now marking World Sepsis Day by speaking for the first time about their loss. They also want to raise awareness of the symptoms of the life-threatening condition which sees the body attack itself in response to an infection.
Expert Opinion“The last 14 months and coming to terms with Ken’s death have been incredibly difficult for Margaret, Claire, Gill and the rest of the family.
“Understandably they have a number of concerns about the events that unfolded in the lead up to Ken’s death which we are currently investigating.
“Through our work we sadly see the devastating impact sepsis can have. Ken’s family hope that by sharing their story they can help others by being aware of the symptoms.
“While incredibly dangerous sepsis can be treated with early detection and treatment.” Caroline Brogan - Senior Associate Solicitor
Sepsis: Ken Donald's story
Ken, who had undergone several previous knee replacement operations, started complaining of pain and swelling in his legs in May 2020. Following a GP appointment an infection was diagnosed and he was prescribed antibiotics.
Towards the end of May, Ken and Claire spoke to a GP, concerned that his condition was deteriorating and his legs were bleeding. The pair told the doctor that Ken was also shivering despite warm weather and had to sit with a blanket on to keep warm.
The family said Ken’s condition continued to worsen. On 21 June, 2020, he was taken to Worcestershire Royal Hospital. He was unable to move his leg and was sleeping a lot.
The following day he underwent knee replacement surgery and spent two weeks in hospital. He was sent home on 6 July to receive community nursing care, including intravenous antibiotics.
His family said Ken was not eating and was very confused. On 8 July Ken returned to hospital but returned home later that day.
Ken’s condition continued to deteriorate. During a home nursing visit on 10 July Ken’s loved ones said he wasn’t eating, drinking or passing urine.
The following day they called the NHS 111 helpline. Paramedics were called and Ken was taken to Worcestershire Royal with suspected sepsis.
He died on 15 July from multiple organ failure caused by sepsis.
Ken was a member of Droitwich Spa Vines Bowling Club. Following his death his family are arranging to have a memorial bench at the club in his honour.
Family's concern over dad's care
Gill said: “Dad had undergone a number of knee replacements over the years but was still relatively fit and healthy especially for his age. He remained active and really enjoyed playing bowls three or four times a week. The club was his second home.
“He was still independent; he was driving and could do anything he wished to until he developed his infection.
“Following that he wasn’t the same person. He struggled to walk and was in so much pain which seemed to get worse.
“We sought medical advice several times before Dad was admitted to hospital but even after his surgery and his return home he didn’t seem to improve.
“We were becoming increasingly worried and upset at Dad’s condition. His speech was slurred and he was a totally different person.
“We kept asking questions and raising concerns until it got to the point that we called 111. Seeing Dad towards the end as his organs started to shut down was awful. It’s something that will stay with us forever.
“We have a number of concerns about what happened to Dad. Following his death we started reading more about sepsis and realised how dangerous it is.
Wife and daughters raise awareness of signs of sepsis
“We know nothing can bring him back but we at least want to honour his memory by finding out whether more could have been done to help him.
“We just hope that by sharing our story we can help make others aware of the symptoms of sepsis and how important early treatment is.”
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting families affected by sepsis at our dedicated 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