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Ilford Mum Died After Doctors Diagnosed Signs Of Sepsis As Muscle Sprain

Husband Calls For Lessons To Be Learned After Inquest Concludes

24.06.2019

Andrew Hewitt, Press Officer | 0114 274 4255

A grieving husband has called for lessons to be learned after an inquest heard a woman died after doctors mistook her symptoms of sepsis for a muscle sprain.

Shahida Begum died aged 39 a day after she attended the emergency department of Newham University Hospital in London complaining of symptoms including a red rash and pain in her right side, sickness, dizziness and coughing.

Following an initial screening assessment, the mum-of-two was directed towards the GP service based at the hospital - run by Newham GP Co-operative – rather than A&E. She was diagnosed as having a muscle sprain and discharged with medication.

With her condition deteriorating rapidly, Shahida’s husband, Mohammed Rahman, took her to their GP the following day. She collapsed and was taken to Newham University Hospital by ambulance and diagnosed with sepsis. Despite a range of treatment, Shahida, a nursery nurse, suffered three cardiac arrests and died from multiple organ failure later that day.

Following her death Mohammed, 47, instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to support the family through the inquest process and to investigate the delay in diagnosing sepsis.

Mohammed, an IT manager, has now joined his legal team at Irwin Mitchell in warning of the dangers of sepsis and calling for lessons to be learned.

It comes after an inquest concluded that if Shahida had been sent to A&E following her screening assessment at Newham University Hospital “it is likely her death would have been avoided.”  

Senior coroner Nadia Persaud is to now issue a Prevention of Future Deaths order  instructing Newham GP Co-operative and Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, to tell her what steps they will take to improve the screening service which decides whether patients are referred to GPs or A&E.

An internal investigation by Barts Health NHS Trust also highlighted a range of issues. A report found the ‘root causes’ for Shahida’s death was that she was incorrectly sent to the GP area, a diagnosis of a muscle sprain did not fit with all of her symptoms, sepsis was not considered and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines for assessing the risk of sepsis were not followed.

Expert Opinion
“Understandably Shahida’s sudden death has a profound effect on her family who are still struggling to come to terms with what happened.

“The family have had a number of concerns about what happened in the lead up to her death and sadly the inquest and NHS investigation has identified a number of worrying areas in the care Shahida received.

“While nothing can make up for Shahida’s death we recognise the recommendations that the Hospital Trust has included in its report. It is now vital that these are implemented so staff across all departments are aware of the signs of sepsis and how early detection is key to beating it.”
Alexandra Winch, Solicitor

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling medical negligence cases 

Shahida and Mohammed married in 2009 and had two children, Maryam, six and three-year-old Amaan.

Shahida returned home from work on Tuesday, 3 July, last year complaining of feeling unwell.

Over the coming days her symptoms persisted and she developed a rash under her right arm. She attended an out of hours GP appointment on Friday, 6 July, but was reassured that her symptoms were nothing to be concerned about.

However, her condition continued to deteriorate over the weekend and on Monday, 9 July, Mohammed took her to hospital where following an initial ‘screening assessment’ she was directed to the GP service and prescribed pain killers.

After she was seen at the hospital her condition worsened and she ended up back at the hospital on 10 July where she was diagnosed with sepsis. She was given antibiotics, fluid resuscitation and medication to boost her blood pressure, while fluid was also identified on a CT scan.

The decision was made to drain the fluid but she died just after 6pm on 10 July during preparations for the procedure.

The report by Barts NHS Trust made 12 recommendations including:

  • Annual sepsis awareness training for all clinical staff working in the urgent care centre
  • Sepsis screening guidelines to be available for staff
  • A leaflet which can be given to patients at risk of developing the infection on discharge to be developed
  • ‘Key learning points’ to be shared with all staff working in the GP area and emergency department

Following the inquest, Mohammad said: “As a family we have been shocked and devastated by Shahida’s sudden death. Prior to the events that unfolded she was a healthy and active person with no significant past medical history.

“We bought a new house in 2017 and carried out complete refurbishment with a loft conversion and kitchen extension. We only moved to our new house at the end of April 2018. She was really happy and looking forward to inviting family and friends to
our new house and creating a lifetime of memories.

“Throughout the whole period that Shahida was ill, we had been in contact with a number of healthcare professionals, all of whom reassured us that it was not life-threatening and that she would pull through. Even when she was admitted to A&E, I
knew it was serious but I did not think we would lose her. It seemed to happen so suddenly and I did not have time to come to terms with what had happened.
 
“It is still difficult to think that my wife and the mother of my children would still be alive if her symptoms had been diagnosed sooner. We miss Shahida every day and it is heart-breaking to know that she is no longer with us and will not get to see her children grow up.

“All we can hope for now is that lessons are learned and that measures are put in place to ensure that this does not happen to any other families. We wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone else.”