Inquest Finds: Hours Old Baby Dies from Sepsis


Following failures by health care staff in picking up the signs of sepsis, a baby in Cornwall has died just 30 hours after being born, an inquest into his death has found.

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What Is Sepsis?

The baby was found to have died of brain damage due to pneumonia and sepsis.

The condition sepsis is known as a silent killer, as it can be very difficult to identify:

  • Sepsis occurs when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive; it is the second largest cause of death after cardiovascular disease,
  • The condition can arise as a consequence of a variety of infections including lung and urinary tract infection,
  • Sepsis is not limited to one age group, and can affect people of any age including, as shown by this case, the very young,
  • Symptoms of sepsis include fever, shivering, breathlessness, and discoloured skin.

The Inquest Findings

The Coroner stated that the baby died from natural causes; after a series of failures by medical staff to diagnose his illness correctly.

Below, are conclusions from the inquest:

  1. The midwives involved in the baby's care had failed to spot signs of this very serious condition,
  2. Though no individual was to blame, the coroner did comment on the necessity to improve internal systems for diagnosis,
  3. The Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust was instructed to implement a training programme to rectify the errors.

Let Down by Medical Staff

Daxa Patel Comments:

"Though the medical staff were very kind and compassionate towards the family after their loss, they still missed the problem. If it had been diagnosed correctly, his life could have been saved.

Understandably, the parents feel aggrieved and let down by the health care professionals.

It would seem this was not the only isolated incident. The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, apologised to another mother from Cornwall for failures in the NHS after the death of her 1-year-old son who, too, had contracted sepsis.

Failure to diagnose, and failure to treat the patient quickly is something we see quite often at Simpson Millar. An apology or compensation will not do much to comfort the family; but challenging failures will certainly go some way to avoid tragic deaths such as these."

Could Simpson Millar Help You?

If you have been a victim of medical negligence, or lost someone because of it, Simpson Millar's panel of expert Solicitors deal with instances of failed diagnosis of a serious medical condition regularly, and could help you.

We're committed to providing our clients with easy access to straightforward legal advice – in a jargon-free way.

If you're not sure about a Medical Negligence claim, but want to discuss your case with someone who can advise you, all you need to do is contact us, today.

Call us, completely free, on 0808 129 3320. Alternatively you can fill out our enquiry form and we will contact you at a convenient time.

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