Bereaved Family Claim Compensation for the Failure to Diagnose Epiglottitis

A bereaved family from Southend are claiming compensation for the failure to diagnose epiglottitis following the death of a thirty-seven year old man.

On 5th March 2014, Steven Jackson attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Southend Hospital, after a sore throat he had been experiencing for several days deteriorated to such an extent that he was finding it difficult to swallow and was having difficulty breathing.

The out-of-hours doctor that examined him prescribed Steven over the counter medication and sent him home. A few hours later, Steven´s condition deteriorated further and his lips had turned purple. His fiancée – Shelley – summoned an ambulance and paramedics treated Steven with oxygen and put him on a nebuliser.

Steven responded after an hour of treatment in his home, and the paramedics determined that he had a virus and was not ill enough to be taken to hospital. A few hours later, Steven suffered a cardiac arrest and died due to epiglottitis – an inflammation and swelling of the epiglottis behind the root of the tongue – a condition which, when accurately diagnosed, is treatable with antibiotics.

Following Steven´s tragic death, a complaint was made to East of England Ambulance Trust regarding the failure of the paramedics to take Steven to hospital.  The chief executive of the Ambulance Trust issued a letter of apology to the family, accepting that paramedics should have spotted an underlying condition and should have taken Steven to hospital for acute assessment and treatment.

Steven´s family have sought legal advice and are claiming compensation for the failure to diagnose epiglottitis. Steven’s brother-in-law Simon Watkins told his local newspaper: “We are absolutely adamant we won’t let this lie. You see more and more of these circumstances, where clinicians have let people down and to me it seems nobody does anything about it.”

“The ambulance trust has stated in its letter that failings were made including a failure to identify four separate indicators of sepsis and a failure to take a sufficient history of previous hospital attendance which led to a failure to appreciate the severity of the situation – and the decision not to take Steve to hospital.”