Mother-of-two died after medics misdiagnosed sepsis as a muscle strain
PUBLISHED: 10:00 25 June 2019
A grieving husband has called for lessons to be learned following his wife's death after doctors mistook sepsis symptoms for a muscle sprain.
Shahida Begum from Ilford died a day after she attended the emergency department at Newham University Hospital on July 9 last year complaining of a red rash, pain in her right side, sickness, dizziness and coughing.
Following a screening assessment, the 39-year-old mum-of-two was told to go to the GP service based at the hospital - run by Newham GP Co-operative - rather than A&E.
The nursery nurse was diagnosed as having a muscle sprain and discharged with medication.
But Shahida's husband, Mohammed Rahman, took her to their GP the next day after her condition rapidly deteriorated.
She collapsed and was rushed back to the Plaistow based hospital where she was diagnosed with sepsis.
Despite medics' efforts, Shahida - mum of Maryam, six, and three-year-old Amaan- suffered three cardiac arrests and died from multiple organ failure later that day.
Mohammad said: "As a family we have been shocked and devastated by Shahida's sudden death. Prior to the events that unfolded she was a healthy, active person with no significant past medical history.
"Throughout the whole period that Shahida was ill, we had been in contact with a number of healthcare professionals, all of whom reassured us that it was not life threatening and that she would pull through.
"Even when she was admitted to A&E, I knew it was serious but I did not think we would lose her. It seemed to happen so suddenly and I did not have time to come to terms with what had happened.
"It is still difficult to think that my wife and the mother of my children would still be alive if her symptoms had been diagnosed sooner.
"We miss Shahida every day and it is heart-breaking to know she is no longer with us and will not get to see her children grow up."
Mohammed, an IT manager, joined his legal team at Irwin Mitchell in warning of the dangers of sepsis and calling for lessons to be learned.
"All we can hope for now is that lessons are learned and that measures are put in place to ensure this does not happen to any other families. We wouldn't wish this pain on anyone else," he said.
An inquest into Shahida's death at Walthamstow Coroner's Court concluded on June 13 that if she had been sent to A&E "it is likely her death would have been avoided".
Senior coroner Nadia Persaud is to order Newham GP Co-operative and Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, to tell her what steps they will take to improve screening.
An investigation by Barts Health NHS Trust which runs the hospital found the "root causes" for Shahida's death was that she was incorrectly sent to the GP area; a diagnosis of a muscle sprain did not fit with all of her symptoms; sepsis was not considered and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines for assessing its risk were not followed.
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Irwin Mitchell lawyer, Alexandra Winch, said: "Sadly the inquest and NHS investigation have identified a number of worrying areas in the care Shahida received.
"While nothing can make up for her death we recognise the recommendations that the hospital trust has included in its report.
"It is now vital that these are implemented."
A spokeswoman for Barts Health NHS Trust said: "The safety of our patients is of the utmost importance to us.
"We will work with our partners in the GP Cooperative Newham to learn from this sad event, including raising awareness of how to spot the signs of sepsis.
"Our thoughts are with Ms Begum's loved ones."
Dr Jim Lawrie of Newham GP Co-operative said the safety and dignity of patients is central to its work.
He added: "The death from sepsis of one of our patients is a tragedy and our thoughts are with the family of the deceased.
"We have learned lessons from this sad event.
"All of our clinical staff have sepsis training and each consulting room has a sepsis score chart on permanent display.
"The coroner has recommended that the streaming service, at the front door of the Newham emergency department, has some changes in place to ensure a sepsis score can be done for each patient on arrival.
"The GP Co-op clinical director is meeting with the medical director of Barts and the senior consultant in the emergency department at Newham to put these recommendations in place.''
For information about sepsis and its symptoms visit the NHS website.
Shahida with her husband, Mohammad, and children: Maryam, six, and three-year-old Amaan.
Mum died after medics misdiagnosed deadly sepsis as muscle strain