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Devastated Lowestoft family speaks out on the importance of sepsis education following death of mother-of-four, Teresa Anderson

The family of a Lowestoft woman who died from sepsis after being discharged from hospital are calling for lessons to be learned following an inquest into her death.

Teresa Anderson, 60 of Kessingland, began to complain of sharp pain on her left side during the evening of May 11, 2020, and was taken to James Paget University Hospital.

She was examined, given pain relief and had a CT scan of her kidneys, ureters and bladder, which found no issues. It was thought that Teresa had passed a kidney stone.

Malcom and Theresa, who had been married for 30 years before her death. Picture: Irwin Mitchell. (50606503)
Malcom and Theresa, who had been married for 30 years before her death. Picture: Irwin Mitchell. (50606503)

No antibiotics were administered and the mother-of-four and grandmother-of-12 was discharged in the early hours of May 12.

The next day her condition began to deteriorate. She started vomiting, was feeling cold and shaking and was rushed to hospital by ambulance where she was diagnosed with septic shock, kidney infection and kidney injury.

On May 14, Teresa died and a post-mortem examination found the cause of death to be sepsis and severe kidney infection.

Theresa was a mother-of-four and grandmother-of-twelve. Picture: Irwin Mitchell. (50607217)
Theresa was a mother-of-four and grandmother-of-twelve. Picture: Irwin Mitchell. (50607217)

A report by the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust stated that Teresa’s death was the outcome of “not receiving antibiotics” during her first admission.

It found a suspected diagnosis of kidney infection was not flagged in a CT scan report, but that if it had been Teresa’s care plan would have been changed and she would have been kept in hospital with intravenous antibiotics.

The report said that Teresa would probably have survived if she had received antibiotics.

No in-patient urology beds at James Paget Hospital was also a contributory factor, the report found. It stated that if she had been admitted Teresa’s sepsis may have been picked up earlier “and the outcome may have been different."

The report also highlighted that patients and doctors “were advised on avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions” at the time, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Teresa's husband Malcom, a 65-year-old retired fisherman, along with his legal team at Irwin Mitchell, are now pushing for greater awareness of the warning signs of sepsis and the importance of sepsis education.

Malcom, who had been married to Theresa for thirty years, and had four children with her, one of whom died ten years ago, said: "The past 15 months have been unbearable.

"To lose a daughter and now my wife is awful and I still can’t get my head around the fact that Teresa isn’t here anymore. My life will never be the same again.

“Teresa was the best wife and mum, and I still think about her every single day. We had been together for 44 years and did everything together. We were a team and it devastates me to imagine the rest of my life without her by my side."

Malcom said that while listening to the reasons for Teresa's death in the inquest was incredibly difficult, the family are grateful to have answers.

“While Teresa was consulted about being discharged from hospital we believe the full extent of how she was seriously ill wasn’t explained, preventing her from making an informed decision about what was best.

"If it was there was no way she would have come home.

“While nothing will ever change what happened, all we can hope for now is that there are changes to help stop another family from suffering the way we have.”

Amie Minns, the specialist medical negligence lawyer representing Teresa’s loved ones, said: “Sadly, the inquest and the Trust’s own investigations have identified a number of extremely worrying issues in the care Teresa received following her first admission to hospital.

“While medical staff and the health service were under unprecedented pressures at the time of Teresa’s admission, her family believe she would have survived if she had received the care she deserved.

“It’s now vital that not only lessons are learned to improve patient safety but that people continue to seek medical advice at the earliest opportunity despite the pressures of the pandemic.

“While incredibly dangerous, sepsis can be beaten with early diagnosis and treatment.”

Signs of sepsis include slurred speech, confusion, extreme shivering and muscle pain, passing no urine in a day, severe breathlessness and mottled or discoloured skin.

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