Case study: apology and compensation for family of Bristol man who died from undiagnosed sepsis
Our medical negligence solicitors acted on behalf of the wife and children of a man who died when he developed sepsis following heart surgery at a Bristol hospital. The hospital has since apologised for their negligence which resulted in his death.
Hospital admission with atrial fibrillation
Our client’s husband, Mr F, had heart surgery (a coronary artery bypass graft) to correct atrial fibrillation (anomalous origin of the right coronary artery) which he had been born with but was only diagnosed later in life.
Delay in diagnosing sepsis at hospital
Whilst the operation was a success, afterwards, Mr F did not recover as expected. His blood pressure was low despite increasing noradrenaline, his heart rate and temperature were high, and he had abnormal blood results. He was also confused and barely responsive to his family and could not manage to eat or drink anything. Mr F’s family repeatedly expressed concerns about his condition but were reassured that his behaviour was normal die someone who had just undergone surgery.
Two days after surgery, there were recognisable signs of Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS) which should have raised a suspicion of sepsis.
Mr F’s wife also spoke to an Anaesthetist who said that her husband was just unwell and would get through it. He was placed on a ventilator as he was struggling to breathe and he later went into AF again. At this point, his temperature was 40.6 °C
His wife called the following morning for an update and was told that Mr F had deteriorated and that the family should come in. On arrival, the family was taken into a room and told that his heart had stopped and, despite opening his chest to massage it, he was unable to be resuscitated and had passed away from complications of sepsis.
Claiming for delayed sepsis diagnosis
Mrs F approached us because she had made a complaint to the hospital but still had unanswered questions about her husband’s death.
Our medical negligence solicitors obtained and reviewed the complete medical records and instructed independent medical experts to review the standard of care provided to Mr F. The experts were critical of the care received and considered that he would not have died had the post-operative sepsis been diagnosed and treated when it should have been.
We sent the hospital a Letter of Claim (details of the alleged negligence and impact of this) and invited them to accept liability at an early stage. Unfortunately, the hospital denied liability and our lawyers were forced to commence formal proceedings. After we had taken this step, the hospital formally accepted responsibility for the death of Mr F and judgment was entered against them.
The hospital wrote Mrs F an apology for the mistakes that were made which resulted in the tragic death of her husband.
Valuing the negligence claim
Our expert team proceeded to value our client’s claim. Mrs F, who is disabled, had relied heavily upon her husband who was also her carer.
A settlement was negotiated shortly before trial, and Mrs F was awarded £650,000, including funds to enable her to hire support now that her husband is no longer able to act as her carer.
If a loved one has been affected by untreated or undiagnosed sepsis, it’s natural to want to know what went wrong, particularly when it leads to bereavement.