Seventy-Five-Year-Old Instructs Medical Negligence Lawyers To Investigate Care
A Stockport woman who suffered from sepsis is calling for lessons to be learned after a Hospital Trust admitted a breach of duty in relation to her care.
In April 2016, Susan Reynolds was admitted to Stepping Hill Hospital where she underwent abdominal surgery.
Over the next ten days, Susan’s wound did not heal properly. Her condition continued to deteriorate. She started vomiting and had an increased heart rate. She was also passing less urine and had complained of feeling ‘confused.’ No antibiotics were administered.
Around three weeks after surgery, she suffered respiratory issues and had to be put on a ventilator. She was subsequently diagnosed with sepsis, where the body attacks itself in response to an infection, and put on antibiotics.
She said she was advised by doctors that her condition was life-threatening. She went on to develop further infection over the following months.
Susan was discharged home in November 2016, around five months after developing sepsis symptoms. Since then, she has suffered from bladder problems, as well as psychiatric issues including depression and PTSD.
She instructed medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her treatment whilst under the care of Stockport NHS Foundation Trust and whether her sepsis should have been diagnosed and treated earlier.
Susan, 75, is now joining with her legal team to mark World Sepsis Day on 13 September by calling for lessons to be learned. She is also raising awareness of the symptoms of this life-threatening condition.
It comes after the Hospital Trust admitted that there was a delay of nine days in Susan undergoing debridement, a procedure which involves cleaning and removing all dead tissue from the wound. It also admitted a delay of seven days in the application of a specialist dressing to help close the wound and increase healing and accepted that these delays ‘contributed to’ the deterioration in Susan’s condition.
Susan underwent abdominal surgery on 16 April, 2016.
Expert Opinion“It’s been more than six years since Susan underwent her abdominal surgery but she is still impacted today by what happened afterwards.
While there’s nothing we can do to change what she’s been through, we welcome the admissions from the Hospital Trust. We now call for lessons to be learned to improve patient safety and help prevent others from suffering like Susan has.
Early diagnosis and treatment is key to beating sepsis and we join Susan in raising awareness of the symptoms of the condition as part of World Sepsis Day. It’s vital people know what to look out for.”
Nicola Ashton - Associate Solicitor Advocate
On 26 April, her wound was found to have opened and was closed under anaesthetic. The Hospital Trust has since admitted that Susan ‘should instead have undergone surgical debridement of the wound and had a VAC dressing applied’ at that time. This is a vacuum assisted closure dressing that helps to promote healing.
However, debridement wasn’t carried out until 5 May, with the VAC dressing applied two days earlier on 3 May. During this period, Susan’s condition had deteriorated and she was put on a ventilator.
Susan developed further infection over the following months, before eventually showing signs of improvement. She was discharged from hospital on 7 November, 2016.
Almost six years on, Susan’s time in hospital still affects her. She continues to suffer from PTSD and depression, while experiencing symptoms consistent with overactive bladder syndrome.
Susan said: “My time in hospital was nothing short of traumatic and I still have nightmares to this day about it. On more than one occasion, I thought I might die in there; it was awful.
“I could tell something wasn’t quite right after my surgery but it took a long time for me to get the treatment I needed. To know that this should have been done around a week earlier really upset me, but I’m grateful that the Hospital Trust has admitted this.
“To this day, I’m still not 100 per cent. I’ve really struggled with my mental health since then and I also have issues with my bladder which means I find it difficult to go out much in case I need the toilet.
“I know it could have been a lot worse as sepsis can be incredibly dangerous so I hope that by sharing my story, I can make others aware of the signs. I wouldn’t want anyone else going through what I have.”
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.