A Birmingham dad went to hospital with arm pain but died 36 hours later after medics failed to spot a ‘flesh-eating’ condition in time.
Heartlands Hospital investigation found a ‘lack of recognition’ of sepsis by doctors meant an ‘opportunity was missed’ to diagnose the condition and remove the infected tissue
Dennis Pearce was admitted to Birmingham’s Heartlands Hospital with an abscess in his right armpit. But plans for a CT scan to diagnose the source of the infection were not made until 5am the day after his admission the previous lunchtime.
The father-of-two, from Yardley, was deemed too unwell for surgery to remove the infected tissue by doctors after suffering a cardiac arrest.
His condition continued to deteriorate and his family, including wife Jacqueline, made the decision to withdraw life support based on the advice of doctors. They had been married for 50 years.
An internal hospital investigation report found a ‘lack of recognition’ of sepsis by doctors meant an ‘opportunity was missed’ to diagnose that the 73-year-old had the flesh-eating disease necrotising fasciitis and to remove the infected tissue.
His daughter Karen said: “He was a wonderful husband and dad. He was the bedrock of our family. It is so difficult to put into the words the events that unfolded.
“Having to make the decision to withdraw Dad’s treatment will be the hardest decision any of us will ever have to make. It was a complete shock and absolutely devastating to receive the report through the post which highlighted numerous failures with Dad’s care, which could have caused his death.”
The internal report found sepsis was only diagnosed nearly nine hours after Dennis was admitted to hospital and plans for a scan to trace the source of the infection were not made until 14 hours after admission, by which time it was too late.
Following Dennis’s death, his family instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his care under University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Heartlands Hospital.
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