Coronation Street Helping Increase Awareness in Deadly Sepsis Says Law Firm

01 Aug 2018

Published in: Member News

Coronation Street's Sophie Webster has begged her father Kevin to sue the NHS over her brother Jack's sepsis in the popular TV soap. Doctors were forced to amputate the youngster's leg to stop the deadly infection from spreading.

Jack, played by Kyran Bowes, contracted sepsis after grazing his knee playing football. His family noticed discolouration on his fingers and toes and called an ambulance straight away. He is now recovering following his surgery.


Clinical negligence specialist Marguarita Tyne speaking for the Birmingham office of solicitors Clarke Willmott LLP says sepsis can be a cause of legal claims for compensation and that the firm is seeing increased awareness of sepsis and potential clients calling with enquiries.

"In the majority of cases health practitioners will have done all they can to diagnose the infection. We would not want to suggest that doctors are regularly missing sepsis and that it is always negligent when they miss it. It could be non-negligent for them to miss it and if it doesn't meet the criteria then we would rule that kind of issue out.

"However, in a minority of cases the outcome could have been different with earlier recognition of sepsis and where genuinely negligent failings in medical care can be identified, there may be a potential claim.

"For instance, if somebody who was left for a couple of days without any intervention and then sepsis was diagnosed, we would probably look at whether there might be a question over the treatment of that individual.

"But, there has got to be a suspicion that there has been a delay in treatment.

"This could be a delay at the hospital or a family may have taken a family member backwards and forwards for attention to their GP and the doctor has not taken it seriously, that is the kind of case we are instructed to investigate.

"Not only have you got to prove that there has been delay but you also need to show the delay has caused the outcome. If there has been delay and the patient would have died any way, or a delay and the patient would have had the same amputation any way even if they had got to hospital earlier, it is unlikely that there will be a claim.

"That is why our job is so difficult at the beginning, to actually identify the difference between sub-standard care that caused the end result, and sub-standard care that has not had an impact."

Marguarita says where medical negligence is proved a financial settlement awarded might include money to raise a family in the event of a parent losing their life and in other cases other financial dependency and to pay funeral costs.

"In the case of amputation, a settlement would enable the purchase of prosthetics, care for that individual for the rest of their lives, suitably adapted accommodation, and other things like physio and any other health needs.

"Sepsis UK have done such a good job raising the profile of this terrible illness. It is not just about educating healthcare professionals it is also about educating members the public to get help earlier, or to persist with their doctor.

Coronation Street script writers have worked closely with the trust https://sepsistrust.org/ to raise the profile of a disease which kills 44,000 people a year in the UK. Early recognition of the symptoms is essential, both by the public and the medical profession. Those early symptoms can include:

  • high temperature (fever)
  • chills and intense shivering
  • a fast heartbeat
  • fast breathing

Symptoms of more severe sepsis can include:

  • feeling dizzy or faint
  • confusion or disorientation
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • not passing water for prolonged periods
  • cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin

"The more that people are aware that there is a check list to go through and they can find this material online the more likely they are to get themselves to a doctor sooner rather than later.

"If the little boy who just grazed his knee in Coronation Street can get that message across and how something so innocuous can have a devastating effect it is not just drama but something that often happens in real life."

For more information, visit: www.itv.com/news/granada/2018-07-04/coronation-street-runs-sepsis-storyline-to-raise-awareness-of-symptoms/.

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