Shelly Jackson Is Joining Expert Medical Negligence Lawyers To Support Wear Orange and Help Mend Sepsis Day on Friday
The fiancée of a man who died just four months before his wedding after a catalogue of failings by paramedics in diagnosing deadly sepsis is speaking out in support of the UK Sepsis Trust’s Wear Orange and Help Mend Sepsis Day, this week.
Steven “Jacko” Jackson, died on March 5, 2014 after visiting the Southend Hospital’s A&E department at 7am, complaining of difficulty breathing and swallowing.
The 37-year-old was sent home but, just three hours later, his fiancée Shelly Smith had to call an ambulance as his condition continued to deteriorate. Paramedics from The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust provided treatment but said he did not need hospital care and just three hours later, after another 999 call at 1pm, he suffered a cardiac arrest and died.
Shelly instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her husband-to-be’s death and the law firm has secured an admission of liability from the Trust which also sent a letter of apology to Shelly and children Yasmine, 20 and Bryn, 18.
Shelly, who changed her name to Shelly Jackson on what would have been the couple’s wedding day on July 31, 2014, is speaking out about her devastating loss as leading sepsis charity The UK Sepsis Trust prepares to hold its annual Wear Orange and Help Mend Sepsis awareness day on Friday (May 26th). The event calls for fundraisers to don the hue – the official campaign colour – to raise and awareness of, and money to tackle, the biggest killer of patients in UK hospitals.
The mother-of-two said: “Steven died four months before we were due to be married. Sepsis took his life and destroyed our future. My two children, Steven’s would-be stepchildren, who looked upon him as a father and idolised him, lost an integral part of their lives that day.
“Steven loved life. He was treasured among friends and family and someone we all felt truly lucky to have in our lives. How that could come to such an abrupt end has left us all reeling, even three years after his death.
“I am still very angry about Steven’s death; especially when there were opportunities to save him, and I feel that the fact that so many people are dying from such an easily treatable illness is diabolical.
“It is really important that all medical professionals are well versed in identifying sepsis to give patients the very best chance of survival. It is too late for Steven, but if lessons can be learned from his death than more lives might be saved.”
A two-day inquest into his death at Chelmsford Coroner’s Court concluded that there were very serious failings in the care Steven received from the ambulance staff and with appropriate and timely treatment Steven would most likely have survived.
The coroner issued a Regulation 28 report to the East of England Ambulance NHS Trust recommending that ambulance staff received training in the diagnosis of sepsis.
A Serious Untoward Incident investigation launched by the Ambulance Trust after Steven’s death found:
• Ambulance staff said Steven was suffering from a simple viral infection
• They failed to identify four sepsis markers
• They decided not to take Steven to the hospital for treatment.
Expert Opinion“Sepsis is a devastating condition which affects 150,000 people every year in the UK, resulting in 44,000 deaths. This number of people dying from sepsis in the UK is extremely troubling as the condition can be treated by a course of antibiotics if diagnosed quickly.
“We have seen numerous cases such as Steven’s where the symptoms of sepsis have not been spotted or where patients have not been started on treatment soon enough. This has a devastating impact on them, and for the family and friends of those who lose their lives as a result.
“Through our close work with The UK Sepsis Trust we have seen the urgent need to promote the signs of sepsis and provide early care in the UK and hope that this week’s Wear Orange and Help Mend Sepsis awareness day will raise vital funds to save thousands of lives and improve the outlook for all of those affected.” Louise Forsyth - Senior Associate Solicitor
Steven worked as a Steel Erector and had been suffering from a sore throat for several days when his condition failed to improve and Shelly took him to A&E at Southend Hospital. At around 7am on March 5, an out-of-hours doctor told him to purchase over the counter medication and sent him home.
At 10am, an ambulance was called to his home as his condition deteriorated, with his fiancée describing that he looked pale with purple lips. Paramedics spent an hour assessing him before diagnosing a virus and saying he did not require hospital treatment. At 1pm, another ambulance was called and Steven suffered a cardiac arrest and died.
It was subsequently identified that Steven was suffering from epiglottitis, the inflammation and swelling of the epiglottis behind the root of the tongue which is regarded as a medical emergency and can significantly restrict oxygen supply to the lungs. It is treated with antibiotics.
What is sepsis?
Sepsis is caused by the way the body responds to germs, such as bacteria, getting into your body. The infection may have started anywhere in a sufferer’s body, and may be only in one part of the body or it may be widespread. Sepsis can occur following chest or water infections, problems in the abdomen like burst ulcers, or simple skin injuries like cuts and bites.
Sepsis is a life threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs. Sepsis leads to shock, multiple organ failure and death especially if not recognized early and treated promptly.
Read more about the work of Irwin Mitchell's Medical Negligence Team here.