What was thought to be a stomach bug tragically turned fatal for William, who passed away less than 48 hours after showing symptoms. His wife, Sue, wanted answers and came to Amrit Dhaliwal at Medical Accident Group for help.
In October 2016, Sue contacted their GP for her husband, William, who had been suffering with sickness and diarrhoea (which they thought was due to food poisoning from a takeaway the night before). However, whilst awaiting his appointment William became breathless and so his wife called an ambulance. The paramedics put it down to a stomach bug and that he didn’t need to go to hospital, but to still attend the GP appointment to request anti-sickness medication.
The GP noted that William was clearly unwell as his breathing became faster and shallower, and blue-lighted an ambulance for red flag sepsis. William suffered a cardiac arrest en route to hospital and was admitted onto ICU. He sadly passed away later that evening, with the cause of death as sepsis.
Sue wanted her husband’s death to be investigated and to find out what could have been done to prevent such a tragedy. Amrit Dhaliwal sought the answers she was looking for.
What went wrong?
William’s blood test results were not typical of sepsis but highly suggestive of Metformin Associated Lactic Acidosis (MALA). Had the hospital considered this, and the fact that William had been taking metformin to treat non-insulin dependent diabetes, it is highly likely his life would have been saved by emergency renal replacement therapy.
On Sue’s behalf, Amrit investigated the claim against the ambulance service and the hospital. As with all situations like this, emotions run high and meetings can be challenging, but this was particularly complicated because of the number of experts and external stakeholders involved. However, it was thanks to the reports and evidence that a successful claim was made.
It transpired that the cause of death was likely due to MALA as opposed to sepsis. Sue received compensation from the Trust and the ambulance service which secured her family’s future – having suffered the loss of her husband and, subsequently, losses on her husband’s business. She also received an apology from the Trust.
Following the case, Sue said: “Thank you so much for your dedication and hard work over the past five years; we will never be able to put into words how much we appreciate it. Thanks to you, and despite the odds, our future is a little brighter.”
Amrit said: “This was a really difficult matter and I am so pleased that we were able to reach the outcome that Sue and her family deserved. Although no amount of money can heal the damage caused, it can help them to move forward in their lives. Hopefully this case will help to prevent such tragedies repeating.”