Medical Negligence Lawyers Asked To Investigate After Dad Who Was Admitted To Hospital Dies Of Sepsis
The family of a man who died from sepsis are calling for lessons to be learned in patient care after a Hospital Trust admitted breaches of duty in his care.
Francis Bird’s family have spoken for the first time about their loss as they join their legal team at Irwin Mitchell in supporting Sepsis Awareness Month.
Birmingham man admitted to hospital
Francis, known as Frank, of Quinton, Birmingham, had been admitted to hospital in 2016 with abdominal pain, vomiting and weight loss. He was advised by doctors that it was due to his gallbladder, and this would require surgery to removed. However, he received no follow up appointment for the surgery.
Frank’s family said that he continued to experience intermittent abdominal pain and symptoms but following a more painful flare up on 9 March, 2019, the dad-of-four and granddad-of-six visited Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham to undergo a CT scan.
The scan identified a mass on his pancreas and Frank was admitted to hospital for 12 days. He was allowed home pending the results of tests, including a biopsy, to diagnose his pancreatic mass.
Family's concerns over Frank not eating and weight loss
During his time in hospital his family became concerned that the self-employed dry liner wasn’t eating or drinking and had lost weight. He wasn’t referred to a dietician.
On 23 March, 2019, two days after he was sent home, Frank, who was complaining of breathing difficulties and a fever, was re-admitted to hospital after his family called an ambulance. He had developed a bacterial infection. A plan was made to start Frank on intravenous antibiotics for potential sepsis – which can arise where the body attacks itself in response to an infection.
On 28 March the 55-year-old underwent a dietician review. However, Francis’ condition continued to deteriorate. He was diagnosed with the cancer lymphoma in April. After discussions between doctors, his family, who said they were unaware Frank had developed sepsis, consented for him to undergo chemotherapy, believing it would help save his life.
Frank spent several weeks in intensive care. He was then transferred to a ward where his family said Frank believed he was starting to get better. Doctors said there was nothing they could do for him. He was allowed home on 13 May to be with his family. Frank died on 20 May, 2019.
A post-mortem examination found he died from multiple organ failure as a result of abdominal sepsis believed to have been caused by an abscess in his pancreas which can arise from acute pancreatitis.
Birmingham medical negligence lawyers investigate Frank's care
Following his death Frank’s family instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his care under University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
His loved ones, including daughter Sharan Bird, 30, have now joined their legal team at Irwin Mitchell in marking Sepsis Awareness Month by warning of the dangers of the life-threatening condition.
It comes after Trust admitted a breach of duty in that it should have removed Frank’s gallbladder in 2016. It also admitted a delay in referring Francis to a specialist dietician.
Hospital Trust pays family settlement
The Trust has paid an undisclosed settlement to the family.
Expert Opinion“Frank’s death has had a profound effect on his partner and the rest of the family who are all still struggling to come to terms with the events that unfolded. Frank spent the last weeks of his life in discomfort and pain which had a traumatic affect on his family.
“Understandably the family had a number of concerns, particularly around how his condition deteriorated after he was admitted to hospital.
“Nothing can make up for their loss but we’re pleased that we’ve at least been able to provide Frank’s loved ones with the answers they deserve.
“We now call on the Trust to learn lessons from its admitted breaches of duty to improve patient care for others.” Jade Elliott-Archer - Associate Solicitor
Daughter's sepsis warning as she pays tribute to dad
Sharan, Frank’s youngest daughter, said: “Dad was a strong-willed family man. We all looked up to Dad, he held our family together and we never underestimated his ability to light up the room.
“When Dad walked into hospital for the CT scan he was his usual happy and cheeky self and had been working up until that point.
“However, from there we were shocked at how quickly things changed. He went from being the outgoing and humorous person we knew, to a shadow of himself. Within a few days he seemed to be struggling to walk and had to use a wheelchair. He couldn’t eat or drink, he was in a lot of pain, he was struggling to breathe and had blue blotches all over his legs.
“We were surprised that he was allowed home. We tried to look after Dad the best we could, but he was so unwell, so we made the decision that it was best for him to back into hospital.
“Within a few days of been readmitted he had lost so much weight, but his belly was huge. We were concerned about his inability to eat properly and raised this several times as we were so concerned that Dad wasn’t taking his tablets orally due to not being able to swallow.
“To us it felt like nobody but us was questioning why a previously fit man could no longer get out of bed, eat, or drink. Dad was falling apart in front of our eyes and it’s difficult not to think would he have stood a chance at life if he received the right care.
“Dad became really distressed at what was happening to him. The biopsy results still weren’t known and my Dad was worried that by the time he got a confirmed diagnosis he’d be too poorly to recover.
We didn’t know he had sepsis. If I had I wouldn’t have agreed for chemotherapy to go ahead. Chemo supresses your immune system and I’d have been concerned having treatment would have made his condition worse.
“When the doctors said there wasn’t anything we could do we took Dad home because he wanted to be at home surrounded by his family. We looked after and made him as comfortable as possible until he passed away.
“To see Dad go from the person he was into a fearful, confused and tearful man will never leave me.
“When the post-mortem was carried out and we were told that dad had died from sepsis we were so shocked
“It’s worrying to think that sepsis accounts for so many deaths, yet it remains a condition that too many people don’t really understand or know about.
”Dad wanted us to raise awareness of what had happened to him so we just hope that by speaking out we can help others.”
Francis also leaves behind a partner Sharan Green, 58, and daughter, Martina Bird, 37, sons Bradley Bird and Dean Bird aged 24 and 40 as well as grandchildren Ellie, 18, Harvey, 9, Faith, 18, Leo, 13, nine-year-old Daniel, and Baily, aged two, as well as his birth family and many loving in laws.
Find out more about our expertise in helping patients and 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 the UK Sepsis Trust's website.