We advised John McCarthy in respect of a compensation claim against Warwick Hospital (part of the South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust).

John attended Accident and Emergency after a minor injury in March 2016. He was seen by an A&E doctor who undertook a perfunctory examination, diagnosed cellulitis and quickly discharged him with antibiotics. At that time, he had signs of early sepsis, but these were missed.

Over the next few days, John became very unwell. He was rushed back to hospital and admitted with severe sepsis. His condition was life threatening and unfortunately the doctors had to perform an above-knee amputation.

The Trust conducted an investigation which concluded that in hindsight, things could have been done differently but that overall the care was reasonable. Hospital Trusts have a duty of candour to patients, which means they should be open and honest with patients when things go wrong. We were concerned that the response to the investigation was not as open as it should have been.

We investigated the care he received and built a case to say he should have been managed for sepsis when he first went to A&E. The sepsis protocol should have been followed (the “Sepsis Six”), including intravenous antibiotics and fluids. The “Sepsis Six” is a system created by The UK Sepsis Trust charity to improve care for patients and to save lives.

After developing sepsis, John dedicated his time to supporting The UK Sepsis Trust and has since become an ambassador for the charity. He speaks to medical professionals across the country and is instrumental in improving patient care.

Sepsis (also known as blood poisoning) is the immune system’s overreaction to an infection or injury. For many patients with early diagnosis it is easily treatable. However, every hour counts, and delayed diagnosis can be life-challenging or even fatal. In the UK, 245,000 people are affected by sepsis every year, with at least 48,000 people losing their lives from sepsis-related illness. 40% of all sepsis survivors suffer permanent, life-changing after-effects.

The UK Sepsis Trust have lots of information and support on their website and their helpline (0800 389 6255). This includes information about how to spot the signs of sepsis in adults and advice to seek urgent medical help if you experience these signs:

  • Slurred speech or confusion;
  • Extreme shivering or muscle pain;
  • Passing no urine (in a day);
  • Severe breathlessness;
  • It feels like you’re going to die;
  • Skin mottled or discoloured.

What was our role?

We built a strong case with input from leading medical experts and a specialist barrister. We used this to negotiate an early out of court settlement, which avoided the risks and stress of court proceedings.

We secured a seven-figure sum of compensation for John. This will enable him to buy an adapted house, pay for specialist help to improve his quality of life and give him financial security for the future.

We also set up a Personal Injury Trust, Will and Lasting Power of Attorney for him to protect the compensation and plan for the future.

In addition to our legal work, we have supported The UK Sepsis Trust and his work improving care for all future sepsis patients, which will save lives.

The solicitor with conduct of the case was Ann Houghton.