Mother, 63, dies from sepsis after ‘appalling’ blunders by doctors at the hospital where she worked as a catering assistant in 25 years
- Lovetta Bailey, 63, arrived at A&E at Lewisham Hospital with a chest infection
- She had fever and pain in ear and face with pins and needles in arm and foot
- Nurse and junior doctor didn’t check symptoms with hospital’s sepsis guidelines
- The Jamaican-born divorcee died in intensive care on October 22, 2013
A loving mother died from sepsis following a catalogue of blunders at the over-stretched hospital where she had worked for 25 years.
Lovetta Bailey, 63, had arrived at the A&E department at Lewisham Hospital in south-east London with a chest infection.
She was suffering from a fever and complaining of pain in her ear and face together with pins and needles in her right arm and foot.
Daughter Christine Hamilton, now 52, (left) with her mother Lovetta taken in 2012 around a year before her mother’s death
Although a nurse and junior doctor recorded that she had a high temperature of 39C – a normal one is 37C – a racing heart rate and low oxygen levels in her blood, they failed to check her symptoms against the hospital’s sepsis guidelines. This meant a more senior nurse or doctor was not alerted to Mrs Bailey’s condition.
Christine, a human resources consultant, said: ‘Bringing the case was never about money. Absolutely nothing could make up for losing my mum’
Although blood tests were done, they were wrongly assessed as being normal and the mother of two – who worked as a catering assistant in the hospital canteen – was misdiagnosed as having a virus and sent home with paracetamol.
Mrs Bailey deteriorated overnight and she was admitted by ambulance about 18 hours later.
Doctors battled to stabilise her condition, treating it with antibiotics, but the Jamaican-born divorcee died in intensive care on October 22, 2013. A serious incident investigation by the hospital revealed the A&E unit had been very busy when Mrs Bailey first arrived.
Its observation ward was full of patients and it was struggling to cope because of staff shortages – three nurses and one doctor were absent.
The inquiry concluded that, had she been given oral antibiotics, the outcome may have been different.
Her family decided to take legal action years later after watching a television news report about another sepsis death at the same hospital. Yesterday, it emerged that the hospital had agreed to pay a five-figure compensation settlement to Mrs Bailey’s family after bosses admitted negligence.
The Jamaican-born divorcee died in intensive care on October 22, 2013. A serious incident investigation by the hospital revealed the A&E unit had been very busy when Mrs Bailey first arrived
But her daughter, Christine Hamilton, 52, a human resources consultant, said: ‘Bringing the case was never about money. Absolutely nothing could make up for losing my mum.
‘I needed to do something to try to stop any more families suffering as we have – to protect patients from appalling errors and to ensure this cannot happen again. I truly hope Lewisham Hospital have learnt from their dreadful mistakes and I will continue to raise awareness of the terrible impact that sepsis – and the delay in diagnosing it – can have on lives and families.’ She added: ‘The impact of my mother’s death has been completely devastating. We were extremely close and everyone in the family loved her.
‘My mother really believed in Lewisham Hospital. My brother Roger and I were born there. She had worked at the hospital for 25 years and everyone liked her.’
Claire Boardman, of JMW solicitors, who acted for the family, said: ‘Lovetta was treated appallingly by hospital staff and her family will live with the consequences of this for the rest of their lives.
‘It is vital that more is done by hospitals to ensure staff are aware of the signs of sepsis and patients receive the urgent treatment they require.’
The Daily Mail has been campaigning to raise awareness of sepsis symptoms among patients and staff since January 2016.
A spokesman for Lewisham Hospital accepted there were ‘failings’ in the care Mrs Bailey received and apologised to her family. He added: ‘Several changes have been made to processes in the emergency department to prevent a similar incident occurring again.’