Hospital Ordered to Pay Compensation for Failing to Treat Sepsis

A Hospital has been ordered to pay compensation for failing to treat sepsis to the son of a woman who died three weeks after being admitted with the condition.

In March 2014, the woman – who was only identified as “Mrs A” – suffered a cardiac arrest and died at Cardiff´s University Hospital of Wales, three weeks after being admitted with sepsis – a life-threatening condition that is triggered by an infection and that can result in a decrease in blood pressure, affecting the supply of blood to organs such as the brain, kidneys and heart.

Following a complaint by the woman´s son, the Ombudsman conducted an investigation and found a series of errors in her treatment. These included the failure to be assessed by a doctor for more than three hours, followed by a six-hour delay in administering antibiotics to treat the condition. The Ombudsman also found the hospital failed to follow record keeping and complaint handling procedures.

Describing the treatment that the seventy-nine year old woman had received as “inadequate”, the Ombudsman – Nick Bennet – upheld the complaint by her son that she had been misdiagnosed and her illness was mismanaged. He ordered the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board to apologise to the son and to pay £4,000 compensation for failing to treat sepsis.

The Executive Nurse Director of the Cardiff and Vale Health Board – Ruth Walker – accepted that the hospital could have improved several aspects of the care provided for the woman and agreed to the award of compensation for failing to treat sepsis. She said that the hospital would implement the recommendations made by the Ombudsman and added:

“The health board recognises the risks posed by sepsis and we have been working hard to raise awareness amongst all staff of the symptoms and steps to take to help save lives. We will continue to build on these efforts and share this sad story with all our colleagues to help avoid it happening again.”