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Three-month-old baby with sepsis dies of natural causes “contributed by neglect” of doctors

A thirteen-week-old baby who had sepsis died of natural causes “contributed by neglect” of doctors, an inquest heard last week.

Lewys Crawford was taken to A&E at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff on 21 March 2019 after his parents were worried about his temperature.

He was displaying signs of sepsis and should have been administered fluids and antibiotics within the hour, yet it was seven hours before Lewys received treatment. He had contracted meningococcal septicaemia, which staff at the hospital initially mistook for a viral infection.

A jury at Pontypridd Coroner’s Court decided that the lack of early actions "significantly contributed to his death."

The inquest heard how three-month-old Lewys was a “healthy” baby before he became ill last year. His mother, Kirsty Link, said:

"Lewys ballooned in size, he was purple all over. I kept asking the doctor what they were doing, and did they have a diagnosis, to which the response was no.

"Eventually we were given a diagnosis Lewys had meningitis on 22 March."

Ms Link expressed concerns over the delay between when Lewys was first admitted to the unit and him receiving his first lot of antibiotics in a statement read to the jury.

The hospital carried out an investigation following the death of Lewys and said that his care should have had a more urgent response. The health board has told Lweys’ family they are “truly sorry”, adding that his case is now being used in training for doctors to better understand the signs of sepsis in children.

Gill Edwards, Partner in our Clinical Negligence team and a member of Baby Lifeline's Multi-Professional Advisory Panel, comments:

There are clear and simple guidelines in every hospital to help staff recognise and treat sepsis in infants and adults. It is so sad to read about the death of Lewys due to delays in diagnosing sepsis and particularly meningococcal septicaemia. On admission to hospital, patients should be given an early warning score based upon their symptoms and there is a clear pathway for staff to follow to ensure that patients are given the correct medication and life support to avoid this happening.

Gill is a Partner within the Clinical Negligence team here at Potter Rees Dolan. If you would like to speak with Gill regarding clinical negligence, sepsis claims or indeed any other aspect of this article, please call 0800 027 2557. Alternatively, you can contact Gill directly here.