Clinical Negligence & Catastrophic Injury Solicitors
Clinician suspended after sepsis death.
A medic has been suspended pending an internal investigation after a mother-of-six died from a rare form of sepsis.
Natalie Billingham, 33, from Tipton, died 72 hours after going to A&E at Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley, with flu-like symptoms and pain in her foot.
Mrs Billingham’s death and the internal investigation come after Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors had to intervene in the treatment of another sepsis patient during a review at the hospital.
Mrs Billingham's family claims there were delays in giving her antibiotics and medics failed to examine a purple "patch" by her ankle.
Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust said Mrs Billingham had necrotising fasciitis, a rare form of sepsis that is "difficult to diagnose.”
The trustsaid it would typically see only three or four cases of the illness a year in the hospital.
Mrs Billingham's family said they want to know why the necrotising fasciitis was not found sooner.
Her husband, Stuart, said: "They let my children down; me, my mother-in-law, Natalie's brother and sister, the whole family."
The trust confirmed that an employee had been suspended from clinical duties following the death.
Medical director of the trust, Julian Hobbs, apologised to the family and said: "This case is subject to a full and thorough investigation which I am personally leading.
“I have met with Stuart and will meet him again once the investigation has concluded to share the findings with him."
He added that "immediate and appropriate action" was taken following Mrs Billingham's death and all A&E staff had been retrained in sepsis management.
The trust was given a "requires improvement" rating by the CQC following an inspection, and a serious case review into the incident involving the other sepsis patient is also under way.
According to the NHS website, necrotising fasciitis is a rare but serious bacterial infection that affects the tissue beneath the skin and surrounding muscles and organs.
The infection is sometimes called the "flesh-eating disease", although the bacteria that cause it do not "eat" flesh, but release toxins that damage nearby tissue.
Necrotising fasciitis can start from a relatively minor injury, such as a small cut, but gets worse very quickly and can be life threatening if it's not recognised and treated early on.
The symptoms can include a small but painful cut, or scratch, on the skin; intense pain out of proportion to any damage to the skin, a high temperature, or fever, and other flu-like symptoms