New hospital guidelines have been introduced to screen vulnerable patients for septic shock, a Bradford inquest has been told.
The changes mean patients whose immune systems are at extra risk to infection, including those who have had transplants or are being treated for cancer, will now be routinely checked when admitted to Bradford Royal Infirmary.
It follows an investigation by Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust into the death of 51-year-old dad Stephen Smith on December 5, 2012.
Yesterday, Mr Smith’s wife Anona and family were given assurances by Trust bosses that a working party had since been set up to look at the management of septicemia, not just in its hospitals, but also with the possibility of taking awareness of it to a national level for other hospitals to learn from.
Infection control will also be part of all consultants’ mandatory training and, on a regular basis, would form part of junior and senior doctors’ training, too.
Kidney and liver transplant patient Mr Smith, who lived at Orchard Grove, Greengates, was seen by a renal specialist who happened to be on duty in A&E and diagnosed his sickness, diarrhoea and groin pain as gastroenteritis.
But the inquest heard the warehouse worker was probably already developing septic shock from a killer streptococcal bug which he could have picked up from a minor skin wound.
Other new hospital guidelines will be to alert doctors that sickness and diarrhoea can by symptomatic of other illnesses such as septic shock, which should not be ruled out.
During his care on the medical assessment unit, there were gaps in his ward records and doctors’ notes – something for which the family received an apology. Another apology was made for not telling the family any sooner that Mr Smith was dying.
Dr Gordon Begg, who was the registrar on duty on the medical assessment ward after Mr Smith left A&E, told the inquest his judgement had been coloured by the fact a renal specialist had already diagnosed Mr Smith with gastroenteritis and had made a treatment plan which he was following.
“I often wonder if I had been the first doctor to see Mr Smith, whether I would have made a different diagnosis. I’m sorry if my different actions could have brought about a different outcome, I don’t know if they would – but if they could have then that’s something I will have to live with forever,” he said.
The inquest will conclude on Monday, February 10.