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Girl suffers brain damage after delay in sepsis treatment

  • 17.09.2020
  • JessicaMG
  • Clinical-negligence
  • Clinical negligence Brain Injury Sepsis medical negligence delay in treatment delay in diagnosis brain damage asplenia pneumococcal sepsis

The parents of a four-year-old girl have spoken out about the dangers of sepsis and how important early diagnosis is, after their daughter suffered a brain injury due to a delay in treatment. 

Sophia Holden, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, lives with asplenia, which means she has no spleen and is at high risk of infection.  

In October 2018, Sophia became ill and her parents took her to hospital, where she presented as lethargic, sleepy and her skin appeared mottled. Shortly afterwards her heart rate slowed, and she collapsed. She was intubated and, over an hour after arriving at the hospital, she was diagnosed with pneumococcal sepsis. Simultaneously, she was administered antibiotics via a central line. 

After her collapse, it was discovered that she had sustained brain damage to a lack of oxygen. She suffered a visual impairment, and Sophia’s speech and mobility were affected. Furthermore, she suffered injury from the central line when it became dislodged, for which she required plastic surgery.  

Sophia now suffers from motor-speech issues and is registered blind, as well as suffering fatigue. 

She has undergone rehabilitation and has had to relearn many of the skills she lost as a result of her injuries, such as walking.  

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust admitted that if treatment for sepsis had begun within an hour of Sophia arriving at hospital, she would have avoided her injuries and would not have required a central line, which resulted in further injury. 

David Melia, director of nursing and quality at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We are very upset that Sophia and her family have had to go through the trauma of sepsis and the lasting impact it has had on their lives. 

“The trust is committed to making improvements and in the last three years we have put a sepsis action plan in place and we have worked closely with our medical and nursing staff on early detection and treatment. 

“We would like to support Sophia’s family using their awful experiences to raise awareness of the symptoms of sepsis, and how important early diagnosis is." 

Sophia’s parents are now aiming to raise awareness of the symptoms of sepsis, and how crucial early diagnosis can be, by sharing her story. 

Helen Dolan, Senior Partner & Head of Clinical Negligence here at Potter Rees Dolan, comments:

"Despite the fact that the NHS launched a fairly widespread campaign about sepsis early warning signs, we all too frequently see cases where hospitals own sepsis screening tools are not followed resulting in serious damage to patients."

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To speak with Helen or another member of our Clinical Negligence team regarding sepsis or medical negligence claims, please call 0800 027 2557 today. Alternatively, contact Helen directly here.