Death of patient following failure to treat a wound infection

The Claimant suffered an injury to her left big toe when a bottle of wine fell from a shopping trolley she was pushing and a shard of glass cut the top of her foot. The tendon in her toe was damaged and she underwent a tendon repair following which her foot was placed in a plaster of Paris cast.

The Claimant began to develop pain in her foot and flu like symptoms. She was seen by an emergency health call doctor who saw her at home and prescribed antibiotics. Her husband contacted the doctor as her condition was deteriorating. The second doctor merely advised over the telephone that antibiotics should be continued.

The patient’s condition deteriorated and after 4 days she was no longer going to the toilet and was so unwell she was unable to get to the car. She was taken by ambulance to the local hospital but there was a 9½ hour delay from being triaged to receiving treatment. During this period she developed toxic shock. She was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit but continued to deteriorate and died.

Initial evidence obtained from a Consultant Microbiologist revealed that the Claimant had died from a staphylococcus aureus infection. Once the infection had developed, because the wound was encased in plaster, staphylococcal toxic shock syndrome developed that led to her death.

A report was obtained from a General Practitioner expert who advised that the standard of care the General Practitioners provided was an unacceptable standard. Liability was initially denied but the claim concluded after the issue of proceedings.

Representation of the patient’s family included attending at an inquest into the patient’s death.

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