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Improper sepsis treatment caused serious injury | Our Client’s Story

Posted on 13th July 2020
Catherine Henry Lawyers
Catherine Henry Lawyers

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We sought damages for our client in a case brought in the Supreme Court of NSW for serious injury as a result of improper sepsis treatment.

Our client had been feeling very unwell for two days with fever, a bad headache, vomiting and generalised achiness. She presented to hospital and underwent a blood test, the results of which were consistent with a serious bacterial infection. A nurse identified that she may be suffering from sepsis. However, the hospital’s sepsis pathway, which required IV antibiotics to be given to our client within one hour of her admission, was not followed. Instead, a diagnosis of gastritis or gastroenteritis was made, and our client was discharged without any further treatment.

The experts we engaged in this matter found that our client was actually suffering acute bacterial infection of the bloodstream at the time of discharge and was at high risk of harm, including death, in the event her condition remained undiagnosed and in the event she was not promptly administered antibiotics.

Over the next several hours, our client became increasingly unwell and eventually telephoned for an ambulance. She was conveyed back to the same hospital and admitted. Again, a nurse correctly identified that our client may be suffering from sepsis. However, IV antibiotics were not administered for a further three-and-a-half hours after her admission.

By the time IV antibiotics were finally administered, our client had gone into septic shock and experienced multiorgan failure. She was placed in an induced coma and admitted to the intensive care unit. In order to try to raise her extremely low blood pressure, high doses of inotropic medication in the form of noradrenaline and vasopressin were administered.

Our client’s injuries and disabilities

As a result of her severe illness, septic shock and multi-organ failure, and the need for our client to be administered inotropic medication, she suffered extensive injuries and disabilities including hypoxic respiratory failure, kidney failure, partial amputation of several of her fingers and toes, loss of tissue on the sole of her foot, nerve damage, neuropathic pain, scarring, muscle wasting and psychiatric injury. Our client spent many months in hospital and then in rehabilitation recovering from her injuries.

Investigation and litigation

We successfully obtained expert evidence to support our client’s case that the hospital should have admitted our client upon her first presentation and treated her for serious bacterial infection. Our experts also took the view that the hospital should have commenced our client on IV antibiotics within an hour of her second admission. If either of both steps had been taken, our client would have most likely avoided the injuries and disabilities she went on to suffer.

We sought damages for our client for past medical expenses, future treatment, loss of income, personal care and domestic assistance, pain and suffering and occupational therapy aids and equipment. We were able to successfully negotiate a resolution to the case for a large sum for our client.

If you or a loved one has experienced improper treatment from a health care practitioner, our expert lawyers can help advocate for you and seek justice. Please talk to us about the options available.

More about Sepsis

Do you know the warning signs of deadly sepsis?

What is sepsis and how can it be treated?


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