A father died from sepsis just ten hours after he was diagnosed with a chest infection and sent home with a prescription for antibiotics, an inquest heard.
Paul Hardy, 35, visited his GP surgery twice in four days after suffering from a chesty cough, vomiting and diarrhoea.
He also had a fluctuating temperature and on the first occasion he was told by a nurse he had flu. After his symptoms became worse, he went back and a different nurse diagnosed a chest infection, referred him for a chest X-ray at a walk-in centre and gave him a prescription for antibiotics.
But later that evening he was found unresponsive by his wife Rachel, who had just taken their eight-year-old daughter Gabriella to bed. She called an ambulance and started trying to revive her husband but he was pronounced dead by paramedics after they arrived at the family home in Biddulph, Staffordshire.
A post-mortem examination revealed he had an abscess on his lung, which had partly collapsed, North Staffordshire Coroner’s Court was told. The cause of death was given as sepsis due to streptococcus pneumonia with abscess formation.
Sepsis, known as the ‘silent killer’, develops when an infection sparks a violent immune response in which the body attacks its own organs. It is the leading cause of avoidable deaths in the UK, killing at least 44,000 people a year.
Coroner Ian Smith said he believed the sepsis and collapsed lung developed in the hours after Mr Hardy’s second visit to Biddulph Doctors at the town’s Primary Care Centre in February last year. All front-line surgery staff have received sepsis training since Mr Hardy died.
Mrs Hardy told the inquest her husband, who was asthmatic, did not go immediately for the chest X-ray as the nurse had told them to wait until his temperature had gone down. The nurse claimed he did not show sepsis symptoms during the appointment and believed he would go for the X-ray straight away.
Mrs Hardy said: ‘I am devastated by Paul’s death and so is my daughter. While nothing will bring Paul back, it is vital that patient safety and care is improved so that what happened to Paul never happens other families.’ She told the inquest that her husband went to bed after returning from the second appointment, not realising the X-ray was urgent. Mrs Hardy said she took him some food but found him lifeless about two hours later.
Concluding the death was due to natural causes, the coroner said: ‘He was still sitting up and eating, albeit supported, at 6pm. He went to sleep and a very significant event occurred which took his life. I don’t think it is right to criticise anyone for what happened.’