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Young woman dies after sepsis is left undiagnosed following a medical termination

A mother-of-five passed away from sepsis due to a lack of basic medical care and knowledge following an abortion.

Sarah Dunn spoke to her GP, a pharmacist and an out-of-hours doctor several times about her worsening symptoms, explaining how she was "unable to move."

She was rushed to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, 19 days after her procedure, where she suffered a seizure and multi-organ failure. This was later identified as a result of sepsis which was missed.

After a five-day hearing, the coroner found the hospital had made "gross failings" and has called for better understanding of maternal sepsis. She stated how there was a lack of awareness in sepsis following a medical abortion and declared she would make her concerns known to the department of health.

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch published an independent report into the case and recommended the unplanned pregnancy service should ensure that the aftercare leaflet explicitly states how concerns about signs of infection should contact their helpline. The report also advised how clinical staff should all be aware of clinical care in line with best practice for post-abortion care

Helen Budge, Senior Solicitor in our clinical negligence team, said:

"It is clear from the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch report that Sarah Dunn was failed by multiple healthcare providers with tragic consequences. This case underlines the need for a robust framework of aftercare for women undergoing termination of pregnancy."

The report also reiterates how the clinical staff should be able to recognise signs of sepsis and have different screening tools available.

This comes after a recent report which estimates that around 11 million individuals die each year from sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, which is more than those killed by cancer. This equates to one in five deaths around the world. 

Helen Budge is a Senior Solicitor in clinical negligence here at Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about sepsis or indeed any other aspect of clinical negligence and wish to speak to Helen or any other member of the team, please contact us on 0800 027 2557 or contact Helen directly.